Last month, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) released the countywide results of their annual point in time homeless count revealing a 12.7% increase in people experiencing homelessness in 2020.
On Tuesday, LAHSA has released the community-level data for individual cities in Los Angeles County. According to that data, the city of Santa Clarita reported 168 people experiencing homelessness, which represents a 35% decrease from the reported 258 in 2019.
“One of the biggest challenges in addressing homelessness is gathering accurate data on those who are experiencing it,” said Santa Clarita Mayor and Chair of the Community Task Force on Homelessness Cameron Smyth. “The annual homeless count is just one of many tools we use to gauge the effectiveness of our strategies. Although this decline is a positive step, we are still hearing from our school districts that they have hundreds of homeless students, and our services providers are reporting an uptick in the number of people who received services.”
Through a new, more accurate survey, created by the Task Force and implemented in the Newhall School District, 148 students were reported as experiencing homelessness in 2019. Family Promise SCV served 73 clients through their shelter programs, while also providing referral services and support for 115 families. In addition, Bridge to Home served 1,062 unduplicated clients via intake and outreach, eviction prevention, case management and more.
Over the past few years, Santa Clarita has made great strides in addressing homelessness. Under the leadership of the City Council, a Homeless Task Force was created made up of members of more than 30 local organizations. The Task Force meets monthly and works to complete the action items identified in the Community Plan to Address Homelessness developed in 2018 in partnership with Los Angeles County.
This year, the Task Force has prioritized the development of a homeless registry to help better understand Santa Clarita’s real homeless count and needs. Once complete, the registry will allow the Task Force to identify who is homeless, what services they need and what services they have accessed. The database is being constructed to ensure the privacy of data for individuals and to minimize duplication for accuracy. This will prove to be an extremely useful tool for the community to better identify and support those experiencing homelessness.
Another crucial factor in addressing homelessness in Santa Clarita is Bridge to Home. Bridge to Home, the primary homeless services provider in the City, has recently transitioned their emergency winter shelter into a year-round 24/7 operation with expanded services to those in need. Meanwhile, plans are underway for an enhanced shelter facility built upon more than $1 million worth of land which was donated by the City in 2017.
This effort to address homelessness in the Santa Clarita community has truly been one of collaboration. The County of Los Angeles and Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger have been essential partners in this effort. In addition, local faith-based organizations, non-profits, medical providers, school districts, Sheriff’s Deputies and more continue to work together to help make a true and lasting impact on homelessness in the community.
To learn more about the factors included in the 2020 Homeless Count, to review previous year counts and more, please visit lahsa.org/homeless-count. For more information about the local organizations in Santa Clarita working to prevent and combat homelessness, please visit Santa-Clarita.com/City-Hall/Departments/City-Manager-s-Office/Homeless-Services/Helpful-Resources.