Having an in-city, full-time, permanent homeless shelter became closer to reality last month when the nonprofit Bridge to Home took possession of deeds to two properties, BTH’s executive director said.
Mike Foley said his organization now owns two acres comprising the lot at 23031 Drayton Street, where BTH currently operates a shelter, and the lot behind it, meaning there’s enough space to move the services currently offered on Newhall Avenue onto the property. Foley said nothing could happen until BTH received title, so now the next move is to get the city’s water and sewer services connected.
“We secured money to bring a sewer and water in,” Foley said. “We’re working very close with the city to expedite that as soon as possible.”
Foley said BTH has $700,000 to build a 20-bed family shelter on the property. Plans that include building around the current shelter and building a new service center are in the process of being drawn up.
“We want to do that as soon as it’s feasible,” Foley said. “We’re working hard to finish our architectural work and to have our plan done. We’re very, very close. We’ve got very good drawings about where things are going to go. We know how many people we believe we can serve on that property, and we can build spaces for people to live in.”
BTH also received good news from County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who pledged $200,000 in gap funding that would keep the shelter operating from April 1-July 31.
“It’s impossible to express how wonderful it is that the supervisor is using this fund that she has available to fund this project,” Foley said. “Come March 31, we don’t have to put 60 people back out on the streets, and for that we are insanely grateful.”
This became necessary after the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) ended a request-for-proposal grant process in which BTH was trying to secure nearly $1 million, leaving the shelter with insufficient monies to stay open past March 31. Foley said he heard that LAHSA ended the RFP because it had earmarked the money elsewhere. Barger, caught on the outside of this relatively new bureaucracy, responded by demanding more accountability and transparency in how LAHSA details what funds are available and how they are to be distributed.
“LAHSA is an independent agency, L.A. County, L.A. City,” Barger spokesman Tony Bell explained. “There are many different processes and funding apparatuses, I’m not familiar with all of them. Should everyone in the county be familiar with all of the funding allocations and mechanisms? Of course. … We absolutely should, and we do our very best to make sure that we do that, and if something is changed, overlooked, which happens often in county bureaucracy. It’s a big bureaucracy. And that’s what we did.
Barger’s pledge and demands are not official until the Jan. 8 county-supervisor meeting, nor is it guaranteed that BTH will receive the $958,000 it requested the next time. Foley said LAHSA told him the last proposal was “very strong,” so he will attend the necessary workshops this month to get all questions answered so BTH can submit a winning application in February.
But regardless of the outcome, fundraising must continue. Foley said government does not fund 100 percent, meaning private donations must cover the rest, including for administration, accounting and case managers. As of Monday, BTH had raised $53,000 of a current $150,000 goal.
“We’re in desperate need of ongoing donations and funding from people,” he said.