Task force seeks input on affordable rental housing

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on February, 26, 2020, is located on the 23900 block of Valencia Blvd. Dan Watson/The Signal

A subcommittee on Santa Clarita’s homeless task force wants landlords and property owners to participate in a survey to better understand how they feel about accepting tenants with rental-assistance vouchers. 

The six-question survey, conducted by the Affordable Housing Committee, will look at opinions and knowledge surrounding Section 8, the federal rental assistance program that has helped about 5 million people across more than 2 million low-income households, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“There are many financial benefits and incentives to accept rental-assistance vouchers,” said Peggy Edwards, chair of the committee. “We want to understand what our local landlords and property owners think about vouchers, and if they are aware of the benefits available to them and the reassurances of guaranteed rent payment.”

In collecting survey data, the committee aims to look at ways to increase the housing supply dedicated for the homeless in Santa Clarita, as well as investigate permanent affordable housing options and explore a home-sharing model. 

“A primary factor leading to the current crisis of homelessness in the city of Santa Clarita, the county of Los Angeles and across the country, is the lack of affordable housing,” reads the task force’s plan to address homelessness. “According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there is a direct correlation of states with higher housing prices having higher rates of homeless people; thus is the case in Santa Clarita.” 

The county’s annual homeless count for Santa Clarita reported a 35% decrease of homeless individuals from 2019’s figures, a drop from 256 people to 168. But the task force has pointed to far larger numbers, with the local homeless shelter helping more than 1,000 people last year and at least one school district identifying about 148 homeless students this year. 

Members of the homeless task force, which include Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth, have raised concern that the COVID-19 pandemic could exacerbate the homeless count in and around Santa Clarita. 

“It is concerning, given the effects of the pandemic has not been factored in,” he said previously. “While Santa Clarita has done a great job as a community working to support those in our community experiencing homelessness and participating in Project Roomkey, we do realize that as the state comes out of the pandemic, we could see an additional increase.” 

The landlord and property owner survey can be accessed at surveymonkey.com/r/FBSYP2L.

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