Homeless task force brainstorms 2020 goals

FILE PHOTO Homeless task force members receive training ahead of the 2020 homeless count on Jan. 21. Tammy Murga/ The Signal
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After the annual point-in-time count last month, the Santa Clarita homeless task force reconvened Thursday to brainstorm on priorities for 2020.  

The group with more than 30 individuals representing organizations in health, education, government, faith and law enforcement took the first steps to restructure its overall community plan to address homelessness, discussing possible ways to improve preventative solutions and how the community aids those already experiencing homelessness.

Ideas were categorized under five topic areas: preventing homelessness; increasing income; subsidized housing; increasing affordable and homeless housing; and creating local coordination.

Thursday’s meeting was for brainstorming, Jerrid McKenna, assistant to the city manager, reiterated, clarifying that the ideas suggested by the task force were not final. Some group members, such as Troy Hooper, who represents the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce for the committee, wanted the task force to suggest specifics with their ideas.

“I really want to leave today with a plan that when we get together in these committees we actually have a map for what we want to accomplish,” he said.

Among the list of specifics offered: 300 units designated as affordable and supportive housing.

“I’d like to propose a goal that we agree on that we will be able to provide at least 300 units of affordable and supportive housing by the end of 2021,” said Peggy Edwards, president of Bridge to Home’s board of directors. “Some of them (can) come from shared housing, some of them can come from new development, some of them from conversion in existing buildings.”

Transportation services to help take individuals from centers, such as the Santa Clarita Valley Mental Health Center, to urgent care locations for same-day services rather than having people wait about a month for treatment, was also recommended.

Other suggestions looked into the possibility of using unoccupied school district land for housing, the creation of a subcommittee that follows legislation on homelessness and housing, childcare for parents who miss work because they cannot afford services and funds that would be immediately available, such as for utilities, to help prevent at-risk families that might just be a paycheck away from losing their homes.

The task force also reviewed its latest accomplishments, which they identified as helping transition Bridge to Home to a year-round homeless shelter, increasing their networking opportunities and improving the identification and data collection process for the annual point-in-time count.

The group is expected to meet again in March.

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