Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, and Assembly Speaker-Designate Robert Rivas toured the Santa Clarita Valley on Saturday, speaking to residents and officials along the way.
The two began their tour by inspecting arundo — an invasive nonindigenous type of bamboo — that continues to invade natural habitat along creeks in the SCV and in the Santa Clara River watershed. The plant steals about 20,000 acre-feet of water from the valley every year.
Afterwards, they toured the Homes 4 Families Veteran Enriched Neighborhood on Centre Pointe Parkway, speaking with residents and representatives of the organization. Homes 4 Families’ goal is to help low-income veterans and their families join the middle class by enabling them to become homeowners.
The “enriched neighborhood model” began under Homes 4 Families, which provides both permanent housing and comprehensive services, including financial education, therapeutic workshops, trauma programs and veteran support.
“I think one of the amazing things and things I really appreciate about Homes 4 Families program is that it’s not just housing but it has the wraparound services that really make a difference in veterans’ lives,” said Schiavo. “[It] helps them gain the skills and get the support and healing that they need to really have successful futures.”
One of these veterans is Alexander Siggins, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq and now lives in the Homes 4 Families neighborhood. Siggins said the meeting with Schiavo and Rivas was “very informative” and that it provided an opportunity to hear what his neighbors are concerned about, but also what they’re thankful for.
“This whole thing is a dream come true. Because I own my house at 34 years old and nowadays, there’s very few 34-year-olds that can say that they own their house,” said Siggins. “This whole situation, everything that happened is a dream come true.”
Siggins said there is still room for improvement for the project, but that having a veteran services dedicated community has provided him, and his veteran neighbors, with a place to form a community — something Rivas noted in his conversations with residents.
“Certainly encouraged by the dialogue here this morning, the housing model as the assemblywoman mentioned, the wraparound services that are really a unique model,” said Rivas. “The sense of the services required to get into the housing and the benefits that have been experienced through those services… [create] a sense of community, [create] housing security, and we’re seeing the residents here are thriving from that.”
Following their tour, the two visited the Santa Clarita Valley Cowboy Festival before heading to Hope the Mission Trebek Center.