COVID-19: Bridge to Home continues efforts to shelter homeless, zero cases reported

Bridge to Home resident adviser Carlos Flores, left, and Camelot Moving & Storage employee Juan Espita set up a cot and personal belongings of a resident in the gymnasium at the Santa Clarita Community Center in Newhall on Thursday, March 26, 202. Dan Watson/The Signal

Across Los Angeles County, more than 300 homeless people have tested positive with COVID-19. In the Santa Clarita Valley, that tally remains at zero, officials said Wednesday. 

For the first time since safety protocols prohibited gatherings due to the coronavirus crisis, members of the Santa Clarita Homeless Task Force met via Zoom and provided updates on how their organizations are doing amid the pandemic. 

Among them was Bridge to Home Executive Director Mike Foley, who said Wednesday the nonprofit organization is staying busy not only operating its shelter, temporarily based at the Newhall Community Center, but also taking lead in the SCV’s portion of Project Roomkey, a statewide effort to procure housing for the homeless during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The valley’s Project Roomkey site kicked off about a month ago at the Super 8 hotel in Canyon Country for asymptomatic homeless individuals, where they are screened for COVID-19 and, if found with symptoms, transported to sites designated to treat COVID-19 patients. 

“Currently, there are 48 beds and room for 50 people at a local hotel in Canyon Country. We’ve been in about, probably, 80% (to) 85% capacity over time in that program. There are nights that we have indeed worked with about 110 people,” said Foley. 

The Santa Clarita shelter, which moved to the community center from its Drayton Street site to allow for the improved physical distancing of occupants and staff, has filled its 60 beds. Bridge to Home has also recently helped five people and families transition into permanent housing, said Foley. 

Amid operating at full capacity, there have not been any confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the local homeless population, he said in explaining that the shelter is prepared with a location should an occupant fall ill. 

“We also have a room in case there are people who do fall ill. Thankfully, so far — I’m knocking on wood — we have not had any cases or people fall ill today,” he said. 

As Bridge to Home continues operations, Foley said the nonprofit organization’s ongoing concern is a lack of receiving cash donations. 

“We’re beginning to have to spend money that we don’t really have,” he said. 

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