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April 25, 2024

Family Promise shares progress with "Frame walk’

Family Promise of Santa Clarita Valley accepted a $300,000 push toward its goal for transitional housing in Newhall on Tuesday from the Santa Clarita City Council.

The next day, the local nonprofit hosted a tour of the framework, showing the community where the money is going.

The plans, which were initially approved by the Santa Clarita Planning Commission in the summer of 2021, call for four one-bedroom apartments approximately 800 square feet in size and a resource center with services to aid clients in their move to a permanent home.

Family Promise board member Laurie Ender described the organization’s clientele — parents with housing challenges — as a “highly motivated” population, adding the housing opportunities were offered as a contract with clients and intended as “a hand up, not a handout.”

“They enter our pro-gram knowing they have to meet with the case manager, they have to show that they’re saving, they have to be working ... so it’s a partnership with the families when they come in,” Ender said.

The goal is to have the facility up and running by this summer. She said she became aware of the family home-lessness problem about 13 years ago while she was still on the Santa Clarita City Council, and at the time, the figure was about 700 students who were believed to be homeless or have inadequate housing in the Santa Clarita Valley And the figure was met with disbelief at the time, she said, but school district data helped open her eyes to the problem as well.

For 2022-23, that figure was 900 students just in the William S. Hart Union High School Dis-trict, about 4.4% of the total student count, ac-cording to California Department of Education data.

She also learned from her volunteer work with Family Promise that temporary housing was a “Band-Aid,” she said, and something longer than a 90-day stay, as well as sup-port services, were necessary to get some clients over their challenges and into permanent housing.

Ender said she met with a number of developers who would continually suggest someone else she should talk to, until she connected with Lance Williams, who she already knew because their children went to school together.

Williams, of local builder Williams Homes, was credited with donating much of the work and encouraging others to pitch in as well during Wednesday’s frame walk, which the builder called one of his favorite activities.

“We love to build, we hate homelessness and so it seems like the least we could do to get this done and so we’re excited to make it happen,” Williams said, standing next to his wife, Sadie.

After addressing the gathering, he added that, as a father and a home builder, it’s tough to see those without housing and try to explain that to his children.

“I just wish it was bigger and we could do even more,” he said.

L.A. County 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the SCV, also was on hand to show her support for the project and her appreciation for the city’s donation of the land and support for the project.

Barger said she represents 20 other cities, but remains amazed at the way Santa Clarita can get things done when it collaborates.

 “Government alone can’t do this alone. It’s about working together,” she said, thanking Lance and Sadie Williams. “And you all have committed yourselves to make this community better, and this project is a reflection of your values and your commitment. So I want to thank you publicly for what you’re doing.”
 
The money donated Tuesday is expected to come from the city’s return on the quarter-cent countywide sales tax approved through Measure H to fight homelessness.

The city’s sales activity has generated “over $8.5 million annually in Measure H,” according to an email Tuesday from Carrie Lujan, spokeswoman for the city of Santa Clarita. “In return, the city has received an annual allocation that has averaged approximately $260,000 over the past three fiscal years.”

This past year, the allocation was about $335,000, which included about $309,000 for Family Promise’s facilities, and another $26,000 for staff funding, which is intended to pay for the staff hours associated with creating the city’s next two-year plan for addressing homelessness.