Alan Ferdman | Where Is Measure H Money Going?


Success in sports and business requires those in charge to carefully evaluate their own, as well as their opponent’s, methods. Have you ever wondered why some sports teams establish dynasties? Why do they continue at the top of their game for long periods, only to later stumble and fall behind? 

It is because “player performance” is only one attribute of a winning program. Having team management, which sets the team’s skills and abilities in a way that creates a winning combination, is the key, which is far more important than showcasing a star player. It is also equally necessary to observe and discover what causes the competition to succeed, more than being critical of where they may have faltered. While a team may not be able to directly incorporate what was revealed into their own game plan, they must take it as an opportunity to adjust their overall philosophy. Yet the end of a team’s winning days tends to follow the exit of the individual, or individuals, who provided the insight, willingness and fortitude to adjust and maintain a winning combination.

Companies, governmental organizations and nonprofits tend to also follow this same paradigm. Some organizations tend to muddle along, year after year, telling customers the same tired story, hoping their lack of imagination and progress goes without notice. 

Take for example, the county Measure H grant of $126,000 to address homelessness. Remember Measure H? It created an L.A. County quarter-cent sales tax for 10 years, “which generates funds for the specific purposes of funding homeless services and short-term housing.” Five years ago, the proponents claimed, if we passed the measure, they could end homelessness in five years. Since then, the Santa Clarita Valley has contributed millions of dollars per year and received back small grants, while the homelessness problem continues to grow. 

According to the City Council agenda item 14, Jan. 26, funds would be allocated as “individual grants, not to exceed $25,000, to allow multiple agencies to access this funding.” 

“The city received 12 proposals from service providers, schools, and faith-based organizations. A selection panel consisting of five city staff was formed to rate each proposal… Six proposals are being proposed (to the City Council for approval) to receive grant funding.”

The first scenario accepted by the city is $15,000 to College of the Canyons “to hire consultants for research on the development of affordable housing for students on community college campuses.” Well, $15,000 should buy about one to two weeks of a consultant’s time and hopefully end up with a report. Then what? 

The money will be gone, and no affordable housing will even be planned. I thought COC was a real school, teaching business, architecture, construction, etc. Why not make this a COC school project? Bring all the COC knowledge and skills to bear and come up with a proposed location, and plan. Then use the $15,000 to build a prototype. With something solid in hand, it might be possible to raise funds and complete the project.

Next is Single Mothers Outreach, who will be given $22,290 toward implementing a subsidized housing program and providing additional social work and educational purposes to clients. As a one-bedroom apartment rental in Santa Clarita is approximately $1,200 per month, given an average 50% subsidy, three apartments could be provided for 12 months. I would therefore recommend the entire sum be used for subsidized housing, with none of the grant to fund additional social workers.

Bridge to Home is proposed to get $22,290 to implement a shared-housing pilot program to increase the SCVs affordable housing stock. Since the concept of shared housing is not new and provides for multiple residents to share rental space and cost, what does Bridge to Home plan to use the $22,290 for?

Lastly, the William S. Hart Union High School District gets $22,290 “to direct services for at-risk populations within the district and purchase a CarePortal membership.” According to their website, “CarePortal is a technology connecting platform that brings the needs of hurting children and families in your community to your attention. Caseworkers uncover the needs. CarePortal makes local churches and community members aware, giving them a real-time opportunity to respond.” 

Then why not give the money to those who are helping the children and families, rather than a group who points out problems and wants someone else to provide the needed services?

A close look at what is happening with this grant shows the city of Santa Clarita funding its favorite nonprofits. Using small amounts such as $25,000 per proposal does not provide the necessary resources to adequately pay for any one of these projects. So here we go, watching the groups muddle through another year. 

But I may have gotten the wrong impression. Therefore, let’s have the grant recipients be required to return to a City Council meeting in January 2022, and account for how the money was used. Then we would know for sure if we derailed, or are on the right track and producing a winning combination. 

Alan Ferdman is a Santa Clarita resident and a member of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee board.

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