Bridge to Home’s grant for year-round shelter canceled, donations sought

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After waiting months for a response, Bridge to Home received notice that its grant process toward a year-round homeless shelter has been canceled. The nonprofit organization is now asking the public for donations to help keep its doors open.

“We are disappointed,” said Peggy Edwards, president of Bridge to Home, a nonprofit that offers emergency shelter and services to homeless individuals in the Santa Clarita Valley.

In a press release sent out by the organization, officials said the grant would have “provided crucial operating funds — but just received word that that grant process has been canceled, replaced by a whole new process to go through.”

Bridge to Home missed out on nearly $1 million in grant funds through the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, according to Bridge to Home Executive Director Mike Foley. This would have gone toward covering full-time operations at the start of February, just more than a month before the end of the winter shelter season.

Funds come from Measure H, the countywide quarter-cent sales tax that voters approved in March 2017, which is estimated to generate about $355 million annually for services and programs aimed at preventing and combating homelessness.

Resources are distributed to locations with higher concentrations of homeless people, according to Dana Vanderford, homeless services deputy for county 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, when explaining the breakdown and impact of Measure H funds back in August.

After hearing the news, Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean, who is also a member of the homelessness plan community task force, said, “It’s really unfortunate that LAHSA apparently had given the impression that these funds would be available and all of a sudden was no longer available.”

“I’d love to know if this is something that Santa Clarita, through the sales tax, is paying more money than we are getting in return to pay for homeless services,” she added.

LAHSA officials were unavailable for comment Monday on the grant process cancelation.

Edwards said, “When there’s a request for proposal, it’s subject to money being available. Anytime you apply they have the right to cancel.”

LAHSA’s RFP contract terms read that it “reserves the right to authorize funding on an annual basis, based upon, but not limited to, satisfactory contractor performance, availability of funds, and demonstrated geographic need.”

Barger spokesman Tony Bell said Monday that “our office will continue to have…the resources to meet the needs of the community.”

Despite the cancellation, Foley said Bridge to Home officials plan on reapplying for the same funding, which has a deadline of late February. This process would put the nonprofit up against other agencies that are already operating year-round and, if received, funds would not flow in until July.

“This creates a problem because of the winter housing,” said Foley. “Our board and I made a bold decision that we will try to raise money to keep the winter shelter open for 45 people instead of 60.” The emergency shelter will need to raise more than the $150,000 they already need to continue offering their services through July 1, he said.

Still, officials feel hopeful about reapplying, saying owning their own property and having the city’s homelessness plan established will give them extra points.

Until then, however, they are asking for donations.

“It will give our neighbors experiencing homelessness – help and hope – so they can make a change,” Bridge to Home officials said in a prepared statement. To donate, visit btohome.org.

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