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August 9
1919 - Charles Kingsburry (Kingsburry House at Heritage Junction) arrives in Newhall to work on Power House No. 1 construction in San Francisquito Canyon [story]
Charles Kingsburry


With wintry rainstorms hitting Los Angeles County this week, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday directed the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and county staff to move urgently to open the county’s system of emergency winter shelters early to provide refuge for homeless residents.

The winter shelters, originally scheduled to start operating on December 1, began opening Tuesday, November 26 and will remain open through Thanksgiving Day and Friday, November 29.

By Friday, up to 13 locations providing nearly 1,200 beds will be open to those in need of refuge.

The county is also working with LAHSA and other partners to identify additional sites that could be transformed for use as additional temporary shelters during the upcoming storms.

Bridge to Home OK’d for Weekend Overflow
The Supervisors’ order doesn’t affect Bridge to Home, the Santa Clarita Valley’s primary homeless services provider, because the nonprofit organization transitioned from an emergency winter shelter to a 24/7, 365-day-a-year shelter in spring 2019.

“That order would have applied to us last year but doesn’t apply to us this year,” said Michael Foley, Bridge to Home executive director, on Wednesday afternoon.

However, Foley said, the 60-bed Bridge to Home shelter on Drayton Street in Saugus has been filled to capacity this week, and with the Supervisors’ encouragement, Bridge to Home received the green light from LAHSA Tuesday to add another six beds to the facility. The six beds at BTH are among 100 additional beds OK’d Tuesday by LAHSA for all county homeless shelters.

“We think that will get us through if we have an overflow Wednesday and Thursday nights,” he said. “In past years (LAHSA) would not allow us to use the dining hall as overflow, so we just had to turn people away. This year, they allowed us to open the dining hall” for the extra cots to be set up after dinner.

Michael Foley, Bridge to Home executive director

Michael Foley, Bridge to Home executive director

The upshot of the Supervisors’ action Tuesday is that they are now essentially “helping” LAHSA, which has come under fire from county officials and homeless services advocates for inefficiency, to reprioritize its approach to fighting homelessness in the county to more closely align with the Board’s vision and goals.

“An unprecedented amount of coordination between LAHSA, the City (of Los Angeles), and the County of Los Angeles is going to save the lives of unsheltered homeless residents throughout Los Angeles County,” said LAHSA Executive Director Peter Lynn in a statement Wednesday. “Thank you to the Mayor (Garcetti), the Board of Supervisors, the United Way and our nonprofit partners for your tireless efforts during this holiday period.”

The LAHSA-administered winter shelter program will permanently open for the season on December 1.

With more than 44,000 unsheltered residents — 75% of the county’s overall homeless population of nearly 59,000 — the Supervisors underscored the urgency of acting swiftly in the face of upcoming storms.

“We must do all we can to help people be safe indoors during inclement weather. It is important that we hasten to prevent additional illness and death by expediting the immediate launch of the winter shelter program,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, sponsor of the motion to immediately launch the shelters. “We have a crisis on our hands so we must act with urgency. To me, that means rapidly deploying our resources and using our know-how to implement elements of a comprehensive crisis response.”

Tuesday’s action “will allow us to expedite the opening of life-saving resources in our communities,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the county’s Fifth District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley. “This is the first step in ensuring that our system is flexible, responsive and operates with a sense of focused urgency.”

“I know how crucial, and sometimes life-saving, it can be for people experiencing homelessness to come in from the cold to eat a hot meal and sleep in a warm bed,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “While Winter Shelters are scheduled to open December 1st, this year the cold weather didn’t wait until then. I am pleased that today’s motion included my amendment so that in the future, we could activate Winter Shelters earlier when the weather demands it.”

“This storm is coming and will be dangerous to anyone left sleeping on our streets. We need to get as many of our winter shelters open as possible and we need to explore every available county building, school, or community center that we can open up to keep people safe and warm during these winter storms,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn.

Bridge to Home’s ‘Plan B’
“We’ve been working with the Board of Supervisors on a ‘Plan B’ to get a contract for something called ‘augmented shelter,'” Foley said. “That would allow us to put 20-25 beds in another location that we can move people back and forth to if we need to go over (capacity). That would come under the classification of providing winter shelter, but that hasn’t been set up yet. It’s also a matter of finding a potential site that would be very quiet.

“So we’ve got a stop-gap for this weekend, and this will also allow us to see what the demand might be, because we haven’t yet gone a full year (open 24 hours), so we just don’t know,” he said.

About Bridge to Home
Bridge to Home provides support services – including shelter, case management, housing navigation, and linkages to needed support services– that help individuals and families in the Santa Clarita Valley transition out of homelessness. All these resources and services are available thanks to funds from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, subcontracts with Los Angeles Family Housing, private and public grants, and extensive in-kind donations and participation from the local community. Visit www.btohome.org.

Locations & Services
The Bridge, Client Services Center/Administrative Offices
23752 Newhall Ave.
Santa Clarita 91321
Office 661-254-4663
Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Bridge to Home Shelter
23031 Drayton Street
Santa Clarita 91350
Open daily
Pick-up Points vary
Call Shelter site at 661-388-3002 for more information.

winter shelters - bridge to home shelter for homeless in santa clarita

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SCV NewsBreak
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