County approves Barger motion to fast-track funds to fight homelessness

Kathryn Barger, Los Angeles County 5th District supervisor, and Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean discuss Metro transit and other topics at the City Council special meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Gilbert Bernal/The Signal

Santa Clarita can continue pursuing its individualized plan in addressing homelessness with its share of $6 million in Measure H funds after county supervisors approved a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger making it easier for cities to get money they need.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Barger, who represents District 5, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley, and Supervisor Hilda L. Solis to allocate $6 million to equip cities with tools to implement plans to combat homelessness.

“Solutions to combating homelessness require the county to work closely with cities that know the challenges they face, and the support they need,” said Barger, who authored the motion. 

“Homelessness does not look the same in the Antelope Valley as it does in the San Gabriel Valley and, as a result, the county should empower cities to create innovative solutions to tackle homelessness at the local level,” she said.

The initiative is expected to enable cities such as Santa Clarita to support activities that align with the Board of Supervisors-approved Homeless Initiative Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Homelessness and to complement the implementation of each city’s individual plan to fight homelessness.

“As our cities develop creative solutions to address their own unique homelessness challenges, it has become clear that they need additional flexibility to be able to access Measure H funding,” said Solis, who co-authored the motion. 

“There is an extraordinary need for shelter and housing in the San Gabriel Valley, and initiatives such as the city of Pomona’s Hope for Home shelter are the gold standard for addressing this demand,” she said Tuesday.

“I will always support our cities who are ready to partner with L.A. County to create shelters, build supportive housing and enhance the delivery of homelessness services,” she added.

In 2017, interested cities were awarded planning grants to decide how they wanted to prevent and combat homelessness.  

Santa Clarita and 40 other cities across the county developed plans that, according to Barger and Solis, demonstrated a high level of engagement from stakeholders across the region.  

Following a solicitation process, the county awarded $8.2 million to support 34 city proposals covering 31 cities.  

According to Barger and Solis, proposals either focused on increasing the supply of permanent and interim housing or on enhancing supportive services for those experiencing and/or at risk of homelessness.

While many cities applied for the last round of grants, the complex nature of the process may have discouraged participation.  

As a result of Tuesday’s motion, these additional funds will be distributed by local Councils of Government to ensure cities have more flexibility when implementing their homelessness plans.

Last week, Barger told civic leaders during a public joint meeting with the Santa Clarita City Council that she pitched the motion to the county board after “hearing from my communities that they’re very frustrated at how slow it is to get the Measure H dollars.”

She said the city could receive an estimated $400,000 from Measure H, the countywide quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters in March 2017 to address homelessness. 

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