As winds whip the Santa Clarita Valley and make outside conditions cold and even dangerous for locals without homes, the SCV Emergency Winter Shelter, newly rechristened “Bridge to Home,” opens on Drayton Street in Newhall on Thursday at 6 p.m.
The winter of 2011-2012 will mark the 15th year the non-profit Santa Clarita Community Development Corporation has operated the local shelter. It provides hot meals, a safe environment and important job and medical resources to homeless people and others in need in the SCV during the coldest months of the year, from Dec. 1 to approximately March 15.
More than 100 local residents visited the Bridge to Home shelter campus at 23031 Drayton Street off Railroad Avenue on Wednesday night for the annual community open house event, hosted by shelter board members, staff, volunteers and other supporters.
Organizers gave tours of the shelter, which includes separate sleeping quarters for men and women, a large dining and all-purpose meeting room, portable showers and restrooms, intake offices and storage.
Tour guides answered questions about the shelter, its mission and the services provided, which are designed to not only provide immediate aid, but also to help end the cycle of homelessness.
The Drayton shelter can house as many as 60 individuals nightly. Because children are not allowed to stay overnight there, as many as five families per night may also receive vouchers to stay in a local motel, according to Tim Davis, SCCDC executive director.
Davis welcomed the Open House visitors as they gathered in the dining room to hear his brief presentation formally announcing the shelter’s new name and previewing the coming season.
Davis also outlined the organization’s primary goal — to expand the winter services to year-round services — and detailed the new “Friends of the Shelter” program, which invites locals to contribute $10 a month to help cover the costs of keeping the shelter open and providing assistance to families year-round.
“At the shelter, we want to be the access center, so if someone comes to your church or your organization, or goes to the city or the sheriff’s station and says, ‘I’m homeless and I need help,’ you know where to call,” Davis said. “We’ll be the access center and we’ll say, ‘We want to see that person, and we’ll figure out where that person needs to go to get the right kind of help.’ Sometimes it’s just a loan of a few bucks to pay for some medicine or so they can make the rent payment on time, or they need emergency shelter.”
Davis also said organizers have been in talks with officials at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia about the shelter providing transitional or limited care to needy clients with medical issues.
“When there’s a client or a patient at the hospital who doesn’t really need to be hospitalized, but needs to have a warm place to sleep, to take a shower, help to take their medications on time, the hospital doesn’t have anybody in town they can refer that person to, and it costs a substantial amount of money to keep them,” Davis said.
“We’d like to set up a four- or five-bed ‘Recuperative Care Center’ for people who really don’t need nursing care,” he continued. “They just need to make sure they get three meals a day, a shower, and somebody to remind them to take their medications. So in one facility, somewhere in Santa Clarita, we want to put together those features.”
For more information about the winter shelter, Bridge to Home and the Friends of the Shelter program, email Davis at email@example.com, call the shelter hotline at 661-259-1298 or visit www.santaclaritashelter.com, where a list of current needs is posted.