The city of Santa Clarita, along with L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, announced Friday morning that the two municipalities would be donating a total of $4 million to Bridge to Home, which operates Santa Clarita’s homeless shelter.
In a press conference held outside Santa Clarita City Hall, Mayor Laurene Weste said the city would be donating $2 million to the homeless shelter, and its ongoing efforts to battle homelessness locally, and Barger stated that the county would be matching those funds.
“It is crucial for Santa Clarita to have a permanent homeless shelter, which is why we are here today to announce a major donation to Bridge to Home,” said Weste. “I am proud to say that the city of Santa Clarita is donating an additional $2 million to make this homeless shelter a reality.”
“I am so proud to represent the city,” said Barger during the ceremony. “You talked about a city that really does have a heart and this city not only has a heart, but actually truly understands that in order to address the crisis that is facing the streets right now of homelessness (we must work together).”
The donations will be given to Bridge to Home in order to ensure the completion of the new year-round facility. Once complete, the new facility will have space to house 60 individuals and will be the first family shelter in the Santa Clarita Valley, with accommodations for eight families.
It will also include a large, functional kitchen and offer volunteers adequate space and amenities to prepare and serve meals with greater efficiency. The spaces will include places for clients to meet and engage in case management and workshops, as well as a technology center with access to education, job training and housing resources.
Santa Clarita residents have paid $26.5 million in taxes under Measure H, a 2017 L.A. County ballot initiative that created a 0.25% county sales tax for 10 years in order to fund homeless services and prevention in the county. Of that, only $674,986 has made it back to the Santa Clarita Valley to fund homeless services.
Bridge to Home Executive Director Chris Najarro invited the local community to help the state officials and local stakeholders in donating to the homeless shelter in order to clear the still-existing $1.6 million funding gap.
Najarro said that the center would go on to help those residents who are “experiencing homelessness” as opposed to “homeless people,” an important distinction to make, Najarro said.
“Our clients aren’t homeless people,” said Najarro. “Their current circumstances don’t define who they are, or their lives. At Bridge to Home, we believe people experiencing homelessness should have a dignified life to find their purpose and direction.”
Najarro, during her time speaking at the podium, shared a story of a man who lost his job, home and eventually custody of his son. Through dedication and hard work with his case worker at Bridge to Home, not only was he able to get his life back on track, he was able to regain custody of his child.
“The day he stopped by my office, he shared that, without Bridge to Home, he would not be where he is today and that he will forever be grateful for the support he received; he even shared some pictures of his son in his baseball uniform with me,” said Najarro. “As our clients navigate their journey back to housing, our new shelter will provide the comforts, which will allow them the sense of dignity and self-worth to help them with their efforts on addressing their specific needs to be permanently housed.”
Planned as a transitory facility, the new facility — located on Drayton Street — broke ground in March.