In the picture perfect community known as the Santa Clarita Valley (self-proclaimed Awesometown), we would never assume that homelessness is a critical issue. However, the annual homeless count conducted in January of 2016 revealed that there are approximately 316 homeless people living in SCV--more than double the count of the previous year according to the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative. How can this be possible? As an SCV resident, you may be accustomed to seeing a few homeless looking individuals strolling around downtown Newhall or Veteran’s park, but over 300 in our valley? Yes. And according to sources within the homeless community, this count is an underestimate. To keep the awesomeness of our valley at its top market value, the city of Santa Clarita, its law enforcement, and frankly its residents, all actively participate in maintaining the illusion that homelessness is not a problem in SCV. That people of all sorts and for all different reasons don’t wander through our strip malls every day, hoping for moments of nourishment and assistance. But there are services for the homeless in SCV right? Yes. A Bridge to Home and Family Promise are two of the primary non-profit organizations that work to aid the homeless with the support of churches, school based clubs, and other community organizations. A Bridge to Home runs a winter shelter for sixty clients on a given night and a Family Promise has a year round facility that can accommodate about three families at any given time. This is clearly not enough, and as we mentioned earlier, the homelessness problem in SCV is getting worse. The rise in homelessness in SCV parallels a greater trend that spans the entire county of Los Angeles: in the summer of 2016, as the countywide count of the homeless reached over 47,000, the LA County Supervisors voted unanimously to call for a state of emergency on California’s homeless crisis. Following this heightened state of awareness, there has been large scale efforts and resources being put toward alleviating the plight of the homeless. Just this past March, the Los Angeles County passed Measure H, an initiative that will raise taxes by ¼ of a cent for the next ten years. This bill will generate approximately $355 million per year to extend services for homeless people across the Los Angeles County. While these funds are desperately needed, there is concern that they will not be used efficiently and that the funding will not reach the suburbs in the outskirts of Los Angeles. According to an article published in February of 2017 by the SCV Signal, the City of Santa Clarita was not very involved in the construction of Measure H and Mayor Cameron Smyth is scrambling to put together an ad hoc committee to better understand the needs of the homeless specifically within the Santa Clarita Valley. We are anxiously awaiting the committee’s findings and suggestions. In the meantime, rather than focusing entirely on government funding and county based solutions, SCV Urge is working to identify the immediate needs of the homeless in our community and find ways to create more stability and opportunity in their lives. While we hope for government support, the homeless issue is something that is a product of our community, and thus needs to be the responsibility of the community. In the coming months, our organization will be launching multiple initiatives in support of the homeless. We are hoping for ample community involvement so that the support of this vulnerable population can truly become a shared responsibility, and no longer something we turn away from.