CASTAIC – Caught between local opposition and a contractual deadline for a regional homeless agency, county leaders seem hard-pressed as to whether to go through with a plan to open a winter homeless shelter at the Pitchess jail compound or to seek other solutions. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is scheduled Friday to grant contracts for groups operating emergency shelters this winter. But without a site – the county’s responsibility this year – the Santa Clarita Community Development Corp. can’t obtain the funds to open the facility Dec. 1. Larry Adamson, LAHSA commissioner and homeless advocate, believes the county only has two real options: push through the original proposal opposed by some Castaic residents, or offer an alternative – though that comes at the risk of delaying the Dec. 1 opening. “Unless you’ve heard of a third option,” said Adamson, president and chief administrative officer of the Midnight Mission in downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row. “But I think there is not an option to do nothing. The option to say we’re not going to do anything for the homeless is not an option.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Officials for 5th District County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said Monday that they were still weighing the options. “Nothing is off the table, and no final decision has been made,” said Tony Bell, a spokesman for Antonovich, whose district includes unincorporated Castaic. “Everything is still in play until the final decision is made by the supervisor. Obviously, we are considering the contributions of all parties that are impacted – the town council, LAHSA.” The impasse comes days after the Castaic Town Council, which advises Antonovich on local issues, buckled under residents’ unsubstantiated fears of crime and opposed any attempt to open the temporary shelter at Pitchess Detention Center’s visitors’ parking lot or anywhere else in this community of 22,000 northwest of city of Santa Clarita. Antonovich also has been working to keep constituents happy with county governance as some residents and business owners talk of annexing to the city. The shelter, operated by the SCCDC for the past eight winters, never had a permanent facility, and complaints from nearby residents has forced it to relocate every few years. An offer from the county to host it at a maintenance yard on Centre Pointe Parkway salvaged the program last winter – the 40-bed facility opened nearly a month late on Christmas Eve. That shelter, which closed on March 15, hosted about 77 homeless. About 19 managed to receive help to obtain permanent housing. “The homeless people are there whether there is a shelter or not,” said Andy Pattantyus, an SCCDC official. “If we provide a shelter, we can get some homeless people off the streets.” To avoid last year’s situation, the county proposed teaming with the city rotate the shelter among four to six sites each year between the two jurisdictions. The visitors’ parking lot at the Pitchess jail – separated from the nearest residential street by an eight-lane Interstate 5 – was offered as this winter’s county shelter site. It would offer warm cots and a hot meal for up to 40 people from Dec. 1 to March 15, then reopen at a yet-undetermined city site in December 2006. “The county came up with a clever solution for that, and I think they should get some credit,” Pattantyus said. “The homeless problem in the Santa Clarita Valley can be characterized as a regional Santa Clarita Valley problem. They’re not going to look a separate solutions for Castaic and Santa Clarita. That just doesn’t make sense.” But, without shelter location and with the clock ticking, it grows increasingly difficult to make the Dec. 1 opening date, Pattantyus and Adamson agreed. “It becomes a timing issue,” said Adamson, an Antonovich appointee on the LAHSA board. “An agency has to have enough time to be up and operating. To some degree, you’re up against a deadline. If there are alternatives, we as LAHSA need to look at the alternatives, whether they meet the criteria (for a shelter).” “We’re prepared to act whenever a site is identified,” Pattantyus said. “LAHSA cannot issue a contract unless the proposal is in compliance. A service provider has to show site control, and site control comes from the city or the county.” Bell said Antonovich would try to balance both local and greater social needs. “They are all residents of the 5th District, and doing the right thing is vital,” Bell said. “Supervisor Antonovich will make his decision based upon each of the factors, including the input from the community, including the need that’s presented … and will make the decision that’s best for the community.” Though local homelessness locally is small compared to that in metro Los Angeles, Pattantyus warned it could worsen if left to fester. “If we continue to push people to the edge, we’ll create a Skid Row here,” he said. “That’s the case without a shelter, without any aid and without any case management. The people who have fallen and cannot get back up would have no choice but to lead a feral existence.” Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!