Nearly one-third of the people in LA experiencing homelessness are women and a recent report by the LA Homeless Services Authority identified an urgent need for services that specifically address women’s needs.
As a first step toward providing services appropriate for women, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Kathryn Barger directing the County to use Measure H funds to transform the Sylmar Armory which has operated as an emergency winter shelter into year-round bridge housing for women. Bridge housing provides service-intensive emergency housing with the goal of placing individuals in permanent housing as quickly as possible. Currently, in Service Planning Area 2 in the San Fernando Valley where Sylmar is located, 2,762 women are homeless.
LA Family Housing, a well-respected service provider that has served the San Fernando Valley for more than three decades, will operate the program which could open as early as December. The Sylmar Armory is an ideal location for year-round bridge housing for women because there are currently no programs exclusively providing shelter for women in the entire San Fernando Valley.
LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, co-author of the motion, said, “We are taking a significant step forward with this new program. Only 17% of emergency shelter beds are dedicated for women and yet women represent nearly twice that percentage of people experiencing homelessness. Women desperately need housing and services. I am very grateful to the community leaders in Sylmar who worked so diligently with my office to develop this proposal. I will be working with community leaders throughout my district to help move people off the streets. The only way we can make any headway against a serious homelessness problem is for every community to pitch in.”
“With colder winter months quickly approaching, this effort furthers the goal of Measure H by providing crisis housing for more than 2,500 women experiencing homelessness in the San Fernando Valley,” said Supervisor Barger, the motion’s co-author. “This short-term crisis housing will include access to long-term housing options and supportive systems to help these women rebuild their lives.”
Ann Job, the homeless liaison for the Sylmar Neighborhood Council, was a leader in building community support. “Having had a winter shelter at the Armory for 20 years, we in Sylmar are well-positioned to help reduce homelessness. Voters passed Measure H with strong support. Now it is incumbent upon Sylmar and many other communities in LA to step up and help provide homes for everyone.”
With funds from Measure H, LA County is significantly expanding street outreach, temporary shelter beds and access to services and housing for individuals and families living in shelters, cars and the streets. Twice as many permanent supportive housing units will open this year as compared to last year. Working in partnership with nonprofits, business, cities, faith and community leaders, the County has committed to ending homelessness for 45,000 families and individuals within five years, and through prevention strategies, to keep another 30,000 families and individuals housed who would otherwise have become homeless.