Family Promise of Santa Clarita Valley, a nonprofit dedicated to aiding homeless families and preventing homelessness, raised well over its goal of $100,000 at its fourth annual “A Round to Remember” golf tournament at Sand Canyon Country Club on Monday.
The money raised was done so with the help of over 140 golfers who participated in the tournament and over 200 paid sponsors, including Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents L.A. County’s 5th District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley. Barger was the title sponsor, which came with a price tag of $10,000.
“As your supervisor, one of my highest priorities is ensuring support for our community’s mental health and homelessness,” said Barger in a video message ahead of the event. “Family Promise provides meaningful services to ensure families in need have shelter and resources to help them get on their feet and achieve independence, ensuring they’re kept together and surrounded by support.”
Roché Vermaak, executive director of development at Family Promise, said this year was the largest fundraiser the organization has ever held and detailed exactly what the money was going to be used for — which includes a new resource center and an interim housing facility in Castaic, which currently houses four families.
Vermaak said the organization’s efforts have three prongs: one is to provide for the expenses of the interim house, which is approximately $60,000 a year. This pays for taxes, electricity, gas, water, food and an assortment of other services and needs. Vermaak said it’s mainly single mothers who stay at the housing facility.
The second prong was rental assistance, which Vermaak said the organization began in February of this year.
“We do this for two reasons: to keep families who are going to be evicted from being evicted. We will go to the landlord or to the agency and say, ‘Listen, this family is behind. Here’s a guarantee check to help them pay the rent,’” said Vermaak. “Because an eviction shows for seven years on your credit history and we don’t want that for families. So the first thing we do is help them stay housed.” Vermaak said the second step of this is helping families as they leave the interim housing by providing them with funds and letters of recommendation.
The third prong of the organization’s efforts is case management, which Vermaak said was the most important part of the organization. He said that homelessness can happen quickly in the case of single mothers if their partner leaves abruptly. Vermaak calls these mothers the “unseen homeless” — the ones who sleep in their car and who are afraid to report their situation because of the fear of losing their child if they do.
“That’s why you’re not gonna see them on the street corner with a sign saying ‘I’m homeless.’ You’re not going to see them sleeping in a park,” said Vermaak. “They are the unseen homeless that we don’t know about. But family homelessness has increased since March 2020. It was lots of work. Lots of child care schools were closing. Rent has gone through the roof because housing prices have gone through the roof and yet salaries have stayed stable.”
Vermaak called on businesses to help to support the program and for community members to volunteer their time to help stop the spread of rising family homelessness in Los Angeles County.
Fernando Fontal, a golfer who participated in the event, said he heard about the tournament through mutual friends and he was thrilled to be a part of it.
“It’s a fantastic cause and even just getting to meet, I think, some of the young people may be involved with it, it makes it that much worthwhile and everybody out here is nice and it just makes you feel good to be able to support a cause like that,” said Fontal.