A tiny dirt parking lot off Golden Valley Road was packed Monday night, as community members attended an open house at the Santa Clarita Valley Emergency Shelter. The event, intended to help raise awareness of the shelter and the needs it fills, included dinner and tours of the facility.
Guests brought donations of commonly used items such as coffee, trash bags, and toilet paper to help keep the shelter's pantry stocked for the winter season. Tuesday marked the official beginning of operations for the shelter, which will be open for 105 nights.
The facility includes men's and women's dorms, a dining area, and a mobile shower and restroom facility. Breakfast and dinner are served by individual volunteers or local church groups. This is the shelter's third year at this site, which is made available through a grant from the city. The location rotates every few years.
"What we try to do is provide for the homeless, but simultaneously work to prevent homelessness ... through various programs, training, case management, money management," said Bret Wims, a board member at the shelter. "We're not warehousing people; we're trying to make their lives better."
The shelter enjoys a welcoming atmosphere, thanks in part to local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, who helped by constructing and decorating the dorm cubicles. The men's dorm can sleep 23 and the women's 13. The dining area can also be converted to house additional people.
Children under 16 are not allowed to sleep at the shelter. Families may be accomodated using a limited supply of hotel vouchers.
The shelter is organized by the Santa Clarita Community Development Corporation and is funded through the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, a joint initiative of the city and county of Los Angeles. The open house was put on by the local chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. The shelter will close again March 15.