More families than ever before need help keeping a roof over their heads, a need that shelter managers are scrambling to fill by making a plea for additional donors.
Bridge to Home Santa Clarita Shelter is turning to the community to help meet the increased demand for its family housing program. To avoid having to turn any homeless families away, the shelter's board of directors is launching a $20,000 campaign to continue its family voucher program throughout the winter season until the shelter closes on the morning of March 16.
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If current demand continues, the family voucher program will be out of funds by the end of December. An average of four families per night have come to the shelter during its first weeks of operation. For this winter season, the county was able to provide $7,500 for motel vouchers. This will pay for one family a night from December 1 to March 16. But staff members expect to see an average of three to four families each night this winter. The total costs will be more than $28,000 at that rate.
“Come January 1, we don’t want to look any Santa Clarita family in the eyes and tell them that we cannot help them,” said Tim Davis, executive director of Bridge to Home. “In the winter of 2010-11, we saw a total of 30 families. Without the needed funds, we could potentially be sending dozens of families back to live in their cars, under bridges, or behind empty buildings.”
“After considering possible solutions, we realized the best and most timely decision is to primarily turn to our faith community, which has always been gracious to support our homeless neighbors in need. In the midst of such a dire need, we are seeking monetary donation from the more than 30 churches, synagogues, and temples that are so actively supporting the shelter this year and have been great supporters in past years. Of course the donations of caring and generous individuals will also be gratefully accepted.
The Shelter’s family voucher program provides families in need with a multi-day hotel voucher. Once the county funds run out, families who seek the shelter’s assistance will be required to provide proof of Santa Clarita Valley residence. These families are then provided with daytime case management through Lutheran Social Services (which is funded separately) where they seek jobs and housing assistance with a case manager to transition themselves out of homelessness. The cost of housing a family for a night is approximately $70.
“We want to remind our faith community members how far their donation really can go,” said Davis. “You’re not just providing a one night hotel stay. You’re providing an opportunity for a family to pave a way back to work, back to home and back to self-sustaining life.”
Residents and others who may wish to also assist may send donations to the Bridge to Home shelter at P.O. Box 802978, Santa Clarita CA 91380-2978. Donors are asked to dedicate their donations to “Family Vouchers.” Donations can also be made online at btohome.com/donate.