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Our View: A promise to end the homeless problem

Posted: June 26, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: June 26, 2011 1:30 a.m.
 

Homelessness is a serious and often-overlooked problem in the Santa Clarita Valley.

We have hundreds of men, women and children living in cars, on the streets or in riverbeds each night. Many of them were just unlucky and lacked a safety net. It could happen to anyone.

While the SCV does have some services for the down and out, including the SCV Food Pantry and Santa Clarita Valley Emergency Winter Homeless Shelter, there hasn’t been a valley outlet for families who just need a hand to get back up on their feet again. Well, until now.

Enter the brand new SCV branch of Family Promise, a nationwide program that coordinates meals and temporary shelter through local faith-based organizations, and also provides help in finding jobs and permanent housing through a resource center office.

The organization specializes in helping families only (an adult and at least one child under 18) or expectant mothers, and screens potential clients to ensure there are no underlying issues for homelessness that fall outside of its assistance abilities.

This includes addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and severe mental disorders.

The premise is simple and straightforward: Help local families at the front end of the downward spiral before the situation gets too dire. Give them somewhere to sleep for up to 60 days; give them food; and get the parents back to work and supporting themselves and their children.

In our own neighborhood, there are 15 congregations that host the families for one week at a time, and another 10 that donate food, supplies and volunteers.

It gets back to the old role of churches and temples as community-service centers, and takes some weight off of an already beleaguered state and federal budget while getting people back to where they need to be.

This isn’t a handout organization. As Family Promise SCV board member and Mayor Pro Tem Laurie Ender said, “It’s all about “teaching people to fish.”

The organization’s existence also shows that many different faiths can come together for a single cause.

Because the branch is still in its infancy, only time will tell how big an impact it will have on our valley, and in families’ lives. But if it pulls even one life back from the brink, it’s made the valley a better place.

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