Homeless solution still elusive

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Tony Bell, a spokesman for Antonovich, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, said discussions on future shelter sites were ongoing. “We appreciate the cooperation and support that we’ve received from the city, and we look forward to continuing our conversations regarding the shelter for next year,” he said. “But any speculation on that would be putting the cart before the horse.” Antonovich selected for a second time the county Department of Public Works yard on 21190 Centre Pointe Parkway for the 40-bed shelter after Castaic residents in October rejected plans to stage the facility at Pitchess Detention Center’s visitor’s parking lot. Castaic, Stevenson Ranch and parts of Saugus and Canyon Country lie outside of city limits. The proposal faced stern opposition from residents northwest of Santa Clarita. They worried the shelter would increase crime in Castaic neighborhoods, despite assurances from sheriff’s officials that it has not been the case at past shelter locations. SANTA CLARITA – With the county’s decision to locate a temporary winter shelter this year on a maintenance lot within Santa Clarita city limits, city officials contend they’ve fulfilled current obligations as far as hosting the facility for the next two years. The nonprofit Santa Clarita Community Development Corp. is busy readying the shelter for the Dec. 1 opening. But the deal struck between the county and the city of Santa Clarita to rotate its location between the two jurisdictions – an attempt to provide stability to the program – remains mired in politics. Citing an Aug. 1 letter from county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, a Santa Clarita official said Monday the emergency winter shelter should be staged at an unincorporated county site when it reopens next year. The letter proposed “alternating locations” – the county on odd years and the city for even years. “We are assuming, since it has been in the city for the last two years, next year it will be in the unincorporated areas,” city spokeswoman Gail Ortiz said. The facility opened at the equipment yard last Christmas Eve when the Santa Clarita City Council turned the shelter out of the Via Princessa Metrolink Station after local residents complained. About 77 used the shelter at different times before it closed March 15, the SCCDC said. The city had hosted the shelter for seven winters until the City Council opted instead to fund homeless transitional services. “The supervisor and his office experienced what the City Council has dealt with for several years,” Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth said. “You always have the issue of finding a site that fits the needs and has access to public transportation, that doesn’t cause problems for the neighbors. It’s a challenge every year. “The important thing was to find a site, and find a site before the weather really turned.” Officials have argued it’s up to the county to provide homeless shelter services as one of the agencies behind the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. “It is the county’s responsibility to do it, much like libraries are a county responsibility,” Ortiz said. “They have an L.A. County homeless bureaucracy. Over the years, we’ve struggled like they’ve struggled. We want to help them, but overall, it is their responsibility.” Asked if the deal between the city and county remains intact, Oritz said: “That will depend what the City Council decides to do.” “That we’ll have to figure out next year – if it’s still in the city next year or go back to the county. Those are things that can be worked out,” Smyth said. Santa Clarita Councilman Bob Kellar, who has opposed staging the emergency shelter in the city, said he was disappointed the facility was back. “I continue to believe that the city be involved in providing some level of service for the homeless,” he said. “I do not believe that we have yet the particular course of action to meaningfully help homeless people.” Kellar said the arrangement between the city and county is “as good a system as we can fairly come up with at this time,” but it doesn’t address what he believes is a larger social issue. “There is homelessness throughout this country,” he said. “To put up a winter shelter – it’s a course of action to address the situation for today, but it really is not resolving the issue. … There needs to be better outreach into society into understanding how this comes about.” Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more