Bridge to Home executive director steps down

Bridge to Home's former executive director Silvia Gutierrez in front of the nonprofit's offices in Newhall. Katharine Lotze/The Signal
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Silvia Gutierrez has stepped down as executive director of the nonprofit Bridge to Home, she confirmed Thursday. She had been with the organization, which provides shelter and services to local homeless individuals and families, since April 2016.

Bridge to Home operates a seasonal homeless shelter from November to March, and serves meals through its “Feeding It Forward” program from May until October.

Peggy Edwards, president of the Bridge to Home board of directors, will serve as interim director until the nonprofit organization appoints a new executive director.

“It was a mutual parting of ways,” she said of Gutierrez’s June 21 exit.

On Friday, the nonprofit, architects and various city departments met to discuss renderings for the new, permanent, year-round facility that will have multiple buildings and function like a campus.

“Our future plans are, as soon as possible, to be a year-round shelter and build a permanent facility on the property that the city has given us on Drayton Street,” Edwards said.

The nonprofit will start fundraising for the shelter in the very near future with its fundraising program, “Bridge Builders,” Edwards said.

The homeless shelter initially opened for winters on Golden Valley Road in 2007-08, but moved to its current location on Drayton Street three winters later. Bridge to Home has operated the shelter since 2011.

The city of Santa Clarita bought the land adjacent to the existing shelter in February and transferred ownership to Bridge to Home to build the new facility, according to city documents.

“Due to the need for the expansion of the winter shelter, the owner of the approximate one-acre property adjacent to the current shelter is willing to enter into an agreement to sell the property to the city,” city documents said.

The shelter’s 2018-19 fiscal year budget of $1.3 million has $400,000 more than last year’s, as a result of funding from Los Angeles County’s voter-approved Measure H initiative to fight homelessness.

County funds and Measure H funds have also contributed $680,000 for a family building for the future homeless services facility, Edwards said.

Santa Clarita Valley service providers and city officials also met in May after the city was given a $50,000 grant by the county and United Way to develop a plan to combat homelessness.

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