Santa Clarita awarded $375k for homeless programs

FILE PHOTO: Sheriff's deputies observe as homeless residents leave the Santa Clara riverbed in 2016. Jordan Glenn/For the Signal

Santa Clarita is set to receive a piece of nearly $3.8 million in Measure H funding for homeless housing and its own homeless coordinator, thanks to a direct partnership between the city and Los Angeles County.

In an effort to address homelessness locally, the city was recently awarded with $300,000 toward property acquisition for interim family housing and $75,000 for a homeless coordinator, the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative announced Friday.

Santa Clarita received the full amount it had requested, according to a summary of funding requests made to the L.A. County Homeless Initiative.

“It’s an exciting time because this is sort of the first pilot program with the county and cities,” said Jerrid McKenna, assistant to the city manager. “We’re looking forward to that opportunity to work with Bridge to Home and Family Promise to assist families.”

Bridge to Home is in the process of partnering with the city to develop a permanent, year-round homeless shelter in addition to the seasonal shelter it already operates. The county and the city are pursuing additional funding for the permanent shelter through the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

For interim family housing, McKenna said the grant announced Friday would specifically assist Family Promise of SCV, a nonprofit that serves families facing homelessness in the area, with long-term or permanent office space and temporary housing for the families the organization works with.

At the January community task force meeting that addresses homelessness, representatives with the nonprofit expressed concern about the challenge of providing housing for those it assists. Family Promise often works with local churches to offer families a place to stay overnight but a modular, temporary housing space, which they are working toward, would be a better fit, said McKenna.

“This money will help them research and acquire property,” he said.

For the city’s homeless coordinator, McKenna said this would be a person who reports directly to the city manager’s office and “looks at the entire homeless plan and works more intimately” with those focusing on the issue. Because this is still fairly new, how to contract someone is still in the works, he said. The coordinator will also play a vital role in the city’s already established community task force.

Last year, Santa Clarita and other cities within Los Angeles County developed their homelessness plans to better identify ways cities could address and mitigate their homelessness issues. To help execute their goals, cities applied for funds from Measure H, the countywide quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters in March 2017 to address homelessness.

On Friday, Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative and United Way of Greater Los Angeles announced the award of more than $3.7 million to 20 applicants to “bolster the work of cities in implementing city-specific plans to combat and prevent homelessness.”

Funds were awarded in full or partially in two priority areas: to increase the supply of supportive and interim housing for people experiencing homelessness; and to enhance the effectiveness of county service systems for those experiencing and/or at-risk of homelessness.

“I am extremely proud of the high level of engagement that 5th District cities demonstrated throughout the city planning grant process,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose district oversees Santa Clarita, said in a prepared statement. “The county will not be able to solve the crisis of homelessness on its own – our cities are integral partners in providing outreach, supportive services and housing to those in need. I’m eager to see how these localized solutions to combat homelessness will move into implementation and am committed to continue partnering in this work alongside our cities.”

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