Innovation grant could offer $126K to six projects looking to address homelessness

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on Feb. 26. Watson/The Signal
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A series of projects brought forth by Santa Clarita Valley-based organizations and agencies to address the local homeless population could soon receive thousands of dollars from the city of Santa Clarita. 

City Council members are expected Tuesday to discuss whether to approve six community proposals and distribute a total of $126,493 to fund each one via the 2021 Homeless Innovation Fund Grant. 

The city’s grant allocation is part of $6 million from Los Angeles County, which the Board of Supervisors approved in 2019 to distribute to cities so that they can “develop and pilot new and creative services or to further assist individual cities (to) implement goals in their action plans,” according to a city agenda report. 

Each individual grant to local agencies was set to not exceed $25,000 “to allow multiple agencies to access this funding,” according to city officials. 

The city received 12 proposals from service providers, schools and faith-based organizations and a panel of five city staff selected six for the council’s consideration based on criteria such as innovative programming, the ability to stretch out funding, services that meet the city’s plan to address homelessness and leveraging of community partners, timeline and program management. 

The six proposals are: 

  • College of the Canyons Foundation: $15,000 to hire consultants for research on the development of affordable housing for college students on community college campuses. The college has a homeless population of which at least 53 students currently live out of their vehicles, according to Santa Clarita homeless task force members. 
  • Single Mothers Outreach: $22,298.60 toward implementing a subsidized housing program and providing enhanced social work and education services to clients. 
  • Bridge to Home: $22,298.60 to implement a shared-housing pilot program to increase the SCV’s affordable housing stock. 
  • Santa Clarita Grocery: $22,298.60 to increase food distribution capacity. 
  • William S. Hart Education Foundation: $22,298.60 to direct services for at-risk populations within the district and to purchase a CarePortal membership, which is a platform that connects vulnerable children with families, churches and community organizations for care. 
  • Salvation Army of Santa Clarita – $22,298.60 to enhance existing direct services to clients. 

Six other proposals were not selected, including an overnight safe parking initiative pitched by the homeless task force. Members had finalized the project and presented it to other members of the group Wednesday before learning it would not be selected for the Innovation Fund. 

“I’m very disappointed,” said Peggy Edwards, chair of the task force’s Affordable Housing Committee and president of the Bridge to Home board of directors. 

The program, with an anticipated operating budget of $150,000, sought to use two parking lots with restrooms and security to serve 25 vehicles and with an overall goal of connecting individuals with resources to become housed. Edwards said Friday she hoped the group would continue working on the initiative. 

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