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Winter homeless shelters approved

10/12/2017, 4:09 p.m.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously this week to fund two new winter homeless shelters in the Antelope Valley.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger (Fifth District) recommended opening shelters at the Lancaster National Guard Armory and at the former High Desert Multiple Ambulatory Care Center, saying the closure of the region's only drop-in shelter had created a crisis.

“The shelter crisis in the Antelope Valley requires immediate action,” Barger said.

The armory will offer 125 shelter beds. The 100-bed High Desert location will be open 24 hours a day and will also offer services to “bridge” individuals to housing and other support. Both locations will be open from Nov. 10 to March 10.

The Lancaster Community Shelter closed its doors in August. That loss of 108 shelter beds came as the Antelope Valley is dealing with a 50 percent increase in homelessness. An estimated 4,559 people are homeless in the region, where winter temperatures can fall below freezing overnight.

“The coming together of bold leadership with a ‘no more status quo’ attitude has forged the first steps to address the homeless issue,” Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said.

Barger is also working with cities and service providers to create more permanent housing.

“There is an ongoing collaborative effort to find long-term solutions to regional homelessness beyond winter shelter in our Antelope Valley,” Barger said.

The board's vote included the formal declaration of a shelter crisis, which means that strict compliance with housing, health and safety regulations will not stand in the way of opening the shelters.

“We appreciate and support Supervisor Barger's declaration of a shelter crisis to clear the way and secure the necessary funding,” Palmdale Mayor James Ledford said. “Her compassionate efforts will not only be life-saving, but when partnered with other local social services resources, life-changing as well.