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Homeless shelter closes for season

With end of season for SCV Emergency Winter Shelter service, homeless are forced back on to streets

Posted: March 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Jason P., 40, loaded up on three servings of applesauce, a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee an hour before the Santa Clarita Valley Emergency Winter Shelter closed its doors Wednesday morning.

Jason has stayed at the shelter since January after he was evicted from a room he was renting in Saugus because he couldn’t pay rent.

Jason, who didn’t want his last name printed, planned to sleep in the backyard of a friend’s Valencia home Wednesday night.

“You have to make sure the zipper on the sleeping bag is working,” he said, laughing. “It gets real cold at night.”

At 8 a.m. Wednesday, the shelter closed for the season, and about 30 people living in its dormitories packed their belongs in cars, backpacks, luggage and duffel bags to find another place to spend the night.

For the last decade, the shelter has been trying to find a permanent location where it could house the homeless all year long. It’s been a challenge, said Tim Davis, the shelter’s executive director.

The shelter’s Drayton Street space is leased until 2013, Davis said.

“Some of the people have been saying they were going to live in their cars, and some are going to live under overpasses and go back to where they were before the came here,” said the Reverend Rory Strahan of The Village Church in Newhall. “The options are limited (in Santa Clarita).”

With a cigarette tucked behind his right ear, Keven Woods grabbed a few bagels before the shelter closed.

Woods, 46, said he was going to live in a tent along the Santa Clara riverbed near Camp Plenty Road in Canyon Country. The riverbed is a popular place for the city’s homeless, he said.

“It’s the only safe place to go, and it’s out of the way so we don’t bother anybody,” Woods said. “There’s a garbage can to clean up any mess. There’s a CVS (Pharmacy) opened 24 hours so you can go to the bathroom.”

Kim, who also didn’t want her last name printed, said she didn’t know where she was going to go. Kim has lived at the shelter three of the past four winters and would appreciate a year-round shelter.

“It’s harsh in the winter,” Kim said. “But it’s equally as harsh in the summertime.”

Dressed in a flannel jacket, Kim brushed her long hair in the rear corner of the shelter’s dining hall.

“People think (the homeless) are all dangerous, loaded or crazy,” she said. “I’m just trying to live.”


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