City to take second look at shelter funds  

Santa Clarita City Council members and L.A. County officials break ground during the new Bridge to Home shelter groundbreaking ceremony held at on site in Saugus, Calif., on Monday March 14, 2022. Chris Torres/The Signal

Santa Clarita city officials said Friday that nearly $1.8 million budgeted for a permanent year-round local homeless shelter is ineligible for such a use under federal guidelines for Community Development Block Grant funds. 

The change in plans prompted the city to move $2 million from its general fund, in addition to a $1.1 million land donation, to support the shelter so it is not expected to be impacted by the change, according to city officials Friday. 

A city staff recommendation for Tuesday’s City Council meeting calls for a public hearing so members can consider reallocating the approximately funds that had been budgeted over several years to help Bridge to Home, the area’s leading homeless services provider. 

“Over the last three fiscal years, the city has allocated a total of $1,792,356 in CDBG entitlement funds with the intent to spend these funds to assist with the development of a permanent, year-round homeless shelter (Shelter Project),” the city’s agenda for Tuesday’s meeting notes. “The ability to spend CDBG funds on the Shelter Project was later deemed ineligible by [the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development] due to noncompliance under NEPA regulations.” 

The National Environmental Policy Act is a 1970 law that establishes federal guidelines for how agencies should evaluate the environmental and related social and economic effects of their proposed actions, according to the Department of Energy website.  

“The federal government won’t let us spend CDBG money on the Bridge to Home homeless shelter,” according to Tracy Sullivan, city of Santa Clarita community preservation officer, in an email to The Signal. 

“NEPA was not performed before any associated work began. Due to this, HUD has determined the entire project ineligible for CDBG,” Sullivan wrote in a follow-up email.  

Both the city and a shelter official reached by phone Friday confirmed there was no concern for the year-round shelter’s funding. 

Chris Najarro, executive director for Bridge to Home, said Friday the city has been very supportive of the shelter, and due to a combination of support from the city, county and the community, the year-round effort is considered fully funded. 

“So right now, we’re … really making a lot of headway with the shelter,” she said, noting the retaining walls for the site are nearly complete and the foundation work is expected to be underway shortly. 

“We’re really excited and the building construction is slated to be completed by February of next year,” she added, with a possible move-in date for that spring. 

When the city learned the funds were ineligible, officials looked for other capital projects that previously qualified under CDBG guidelines. 

An agenda report prepared by Sullivan notes that in the past, acceptable uses included spending money to expand accessibility at park locations and incorporate inclusive-play elements for underserved populations, referring to the Canyon Country Inclusive Park Project and the West Creek Inclusive Park Project. 

The agenda notes that city officials have identified Old Orchard and Valencia Glen parks as future park sites that would be appropriate. 

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