City IDs goals in draft plan to combat homelessness

A homeless encampment that was erected inside private property in the hills behind the 23600 block of Diamond Place. Cory Rubin/The Signal

The draft plan to address homelessness in Santa Clarita lists five major goals in tackling the growing problem within the city.

These goals are meant to identify how the community can combine efforts, along with homeless shelters, the private sector and Los Angeles County investments, to “broaden the coalition” with Santa Clarita’s best interests in mind, according to the draft plan.

After the creation of the city’s Homeless Ad Hoc Committee, homelessness was looked at from a holistic standpoint, said Santa Clarita City Councilman Cameron Smyth. Data was collected, including demographics and possible solutions, among other factors.

At a stakeholders’ meeting in May at the Old Town Newhall Library, two consultants from Analytic Insights LLC facilitated the session to “really get in the weeds and assess where we are in Santa Clarita in terms of providing services and what we’re lacking,” he said.

In developing the plan, the intention is to align “city resources, including the nonprofit and private sector organizations in the city and county investments,” the draft said.

Preventing Homelessness
The first step begins with a look at how to prevent homelessness from the start, according to the draft plan. By identifying non-stereotypical at-risk families, youth and those with mental health and drug problems, there is an improved chance of crafting efficient methods of intervention.

Another factor that requires identification is issues with affordable housing, Smyth said. This factor ties in with the fourth topic area, “Increase Affordable/Homeless Housing.”

Increasing Income
Following this, homeless families and individuals must be made aware of the resources at their disposal if they are to get a job and hope for their income to rise.

“This includes linking homeless individuals with information to the benefits they qualify for, such as (Supplemental Security Income), Medi-Cal or veterans benefits,” the draft said. “For healthy and competent individuals, this will include linking to employment programs, such as CalWORKS.”

Subsidized Housing
With the high cost of living in Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County, individuals might benefit from living in subsidized housing, according to information in the city’s draft plan. Falling under a certain demographic and being qualified for subsidized housing is a potential solution; however, not everyone will qualify.

That being said, outreach will be required to landlords and motel owners as a strategy.

As the second step stated, this goal will also need to help people find jobs that are well-paying while becoming residents of Santa Clarita, Smyth said.

“The private sector needs to step up,” said Laurie Ender, president of Family Promise’s board of directors, during a discussion at the stakeholders’ meeting about providing subsidized housing, according to previous Signal reporting.

Increase Affordable/Homeless Housing
The affordable housing crisis across the region has taken a heavy toll on Southern Californians looking for a roof over their heads. While that remains an issue, L.A. County and some cities are looking to increase affordable housing and shelters “through a combination of land use policy and subsidies,” the draft said.

Santa Clarita will then look to develop strategies to address housing affordability, which would include options for permanent affordable housing in regards to trailers, smaller houses and home sharing.

Create Local Coordination
“The one thing I know about this town is there is no shortage of people who will stand up and help,” Smyth said about the fifth and final goal in the draft plan.

With the final goal, coordination between the city and community will be essential in increasing awareness and support for the growing number of housing services. Training, enhanced funding and enhanced data sharing for services will also be implemented in creating a network to battle homelessness.

By doing this, Santa Clarita would develop a comprehensive community plan where everyone knows what they’re doing, Smyth said.

This would include the collaboration of multiple housing services, including Bridge to Home, in working together with the city to fully face this issue.

“I think it’s a fantastic collaborative effort,” Ender said Friday. “It outlines where we need to head, what we need to accomplish.”

While there are many more steps needed, she said, the draft plan was “a really great first step.”

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