By The Signal Editorial Board
Back in 1994, when the Interfaith Council proposed the establishment of a homeless shelter, there was quite a backlash in the community.
There were those, including the religious organizations that participated in the Interfaith Council, who recognized the plight of local homeless individuals and families and sought to provide them a safe place to take shelter during cold winter nights.
At the time, the City Council was not very interested in participating, and many residents in the community objected to the very idea of a shelter.
The divide led then-Signal cartoonist Randy Wicks to draw a cartoon with two panels: One depicted the shower and laundry for the homeless offered by the Interfaith Council — showing a homeless person having an opportunity to clean up — and the second panel depicted the “shower and laundry for homeless offered by the City Council.” It showed a homeless person, out in the rain, with a bar of soap being tossed toward him.
How things have changed. On the one hand, as our valley has grown so has the need for homeless services. But on the other hand, as our valley has grown, so has the recognition that it’s important to do what we can to help those who need it.
Make no mistake: Most homeowners would still rather not see a homeless shelter built right in their neighborhood. But there’s a general sense in the community that helping the homeless is part of what we should be doing for those less fortunate or who have fallen on hard times.
Now, there’s a nonprofit organization called Bridge to Home that is dedicated entirely to helping the local homeless population. Bridge to Home operates a seasonal shelter, and has plans to develop a full-time year-round shelter, with cooperation from not only the city of Santa Clarita but also Los Angeles County.
On Thursday, Bridge to Home held a press conference to thank the county and the city for their respective contributions, most recently including gap funding from the county that will extend the existing shelter’s operations, and a grant from the city that will enable Bridge to Home to hire a project manager.
In all, the city and county have combined to provide the organization more than $2 million in funding as it works toward developing the year-round shelter on city-provided land near Drayton Street, which is close to public transportation but also isn’t smack dab in the middle of a residential community.
It’s a sign of how the community has evolved — in more ways than one. And, we’re proud to say our community has progressed well past the days of doing little more than tossing a bar of soap out into the rain.