Lancaster demands equitable funding for homeless population

The city of Lancaster partnered with Grace Resource Center to host a men’s emergency homeless shelter at the A.V. Fairgrounds during the winter months. City official say 13% of the County’s homeless population is in the Antelope Valley, yet local homeless service organizations receive only 2.1% of the total funding from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

The city of Lancaster partnered with Grace Resource Center to host a men’s emergency homeless shelter at the A.V. Fairgrounds during the winter months. City officials say 13% of the County’s homeless population is in the Antelope Valley, yet local homeless service organizations receive only 2.1% of the total funding from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

LANCASTER —At this week’s council meeting, upon returning from its closed session, the Lancaster City Council directed the City Attorney to look into options to compel the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to provide the Antelope Valley region of L.A. County with an equitable share of funding.

“A full 13% of Los Angeles County’s homeless population is here in the Antelope Valley, yet our homeless service organizations receive only 2.1% of LAHSA’s total funding. This compares to downtown Los Angeles, which has 19% of the homeless population, yet receives 50% of the funding,” said Vice Mayor Marvin Crist. “In fact, over the past few years, LAHSA has cut our funding by 10%. Meanwhile, our region has experienced a nearly 400% increase in our homeless population. Keep in mind, the next largest increase in another area’s homeless population was 65%.”

The LAHSA’s governing Commission is made up of 10 commissioners, half of which are appointed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and half by the Mayor of Los Angeles.

“Because the makeup of the board is stacked to support the urban areas of Los Angeles, the Antelope Valley is not only neglected, but virtually ignored for social service funding. Make no mistake about it, this produces human tragedy. We are not a beach community! With bitter cold winter temperatures, and sweltering summers, people die,” said Councilman Ron Smith.  “Even though we are the area of greatest need, the LAHSA leaves us with the smallest amount of funding for our citizens who need it the most—only 2.1%. LAHSA can no longer ignore the people who are in need of the most compassion and help.”

Los Angeles County is divided into eight Service Planning Areas (SPA’s), with the Antelope Valley area termed as SPA 1. SPA 1 also serves one-third of all foster youth for the entire Los Angeles County. A high rate of youth homelessness often results from emancipated foster youth, yet the county provides no funding for homeless youth.

“Lancaster continues to unite with organizations throughout our valley to seek practical solutions. We’re already working with the City of Palmdale to seek ways to assist the homeless population in our area, 40% of which are veterans who have fought for our freedom. In fact, we’ve both partnered with Grace Resource Center to host a men’s emergency homeless shelter at the A.V. Fairgrounds during the winter months,” added Vice Mayor Crist. “We’re doing what we can, but we are so geographically spread out it’s simply not enough. The truth is, the problem of homelessness will be very hard to remedy without the necessary available funds.”

(Information via press release from the city of Lancaster.)

  17 comments for “Lancaster demands equitable funding for homeless population

  1. sjgranai
    February 4, 2014 at 1:05 am

    It requires a pit bull of a tenacious person to be at board meetings, recommending committees, coalitions, etc. They have to raise HELL and slap faces with facts. It took use three years of screaming to get equitable funding for HIV/AIDS core services. But it happened. It was a hard fight and many (non-politicians) people were involved.
    It requires an investment by the city and lead agency to make sure there is coverage at these meetings.
    I spent much of those three years away from home and in meetings…it drains a person to the core.

    I don’t have a bad experience with Grace…. Many many years ago I was a client.

  2. Michael Rives
    February 3, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Every since Catholic Charities ceased running the Lancaster shelter and turned over ope ration to Grace Resources, I have said repeatedly that we need to partner with a mission from down below. They are experts in handling homeless problems 24/7 365 days a year. Vice Mayor Crist jumped on me and said how do you know we haven’t tried? I said because it was not reported in the media that you tried. No return comment. Last council meeting, I said it again that we need to partner with someone down below. It would be a banaza for them with 500,000 new people to fundraise with. They could run the the shelter, give money to Grace, and make money themselves. Steve Baker does a great job, but, overall the cities in the AV do not know how to run a homeless program. Let’s not keep throwing good money away until we get organized.

  3. Robby Rankin
    February 2, 2014 at 3:04 am

    If anyone above can do a better job than Steve Baker Step up….
    Thankful for what I received.

  4. Michael
    February 1, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    The city is demanding 13% however the homeless will still receive the 2.1% the rest will go into a special fund that will be held until nobody questions and then distributed as bonuses to the good OL Boys. wake up people our city never does anything for it’s people!

    • Rizzy
      February 2, 2014 at 11:31 am

      Where are all these bonuses you speak of and who are they paid to? Just curious.

  5. me
    February 1, 2014 at 6:44 am

    This kills me. I serve in the [removed], and the VA won’t even help me, but the poor homeless druggies of Lancaster need help. Paying for your id isn’t enough, shut the hell up! This mayor prob has his hands in their pocket too. You people are fools. God help me if the mod doesn’t post this, this will be the third attempt to speak without being stifled. This mayor owns you all, you fear him, his wealth, his power, but people fear the after school bully too! Get this crooked coward out of office and put someone who isn’t the biggest lawyer, in his place. To believe a lawyer, you must first admit you are as ignorant and crooked as those that hire him.

  6. Former A.V resident
    January 31, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Agreed county funds should not go to this organization. It’s time the valley gets more! GR has been the dominating force in the area. I used to work for a non-profit that collaborated with them. I used to warn my poor client’s that needed help when I referred them over. Many times staff are rude and short tempered because of burn out from dealing with the mentally ill and “difficult” clients. Clients would say they did not want to go there, and would report they got no help, had to sit through the preaching, and was treated rudely. I worked with a woman who went to stay a night at the shelter as part of her master’s program assignment to be a client of a social service. She said her experience was degrading and horrible, not because of the other client’s, but because of the staff and the policies she was asked to adhere to. Grace has also made motion to be the “only” force to provide help like encouraging all agencies to gather in one place to do school backpacks because they thought people were greedy and would go to more than one place for school supplies. Perhaps that is true, but why does a charitable organization need to patrol that? Same with Salvation Army, they asked for a shared list of client’s so that people weren’t going to more than one place for a free meal. The hungry, homeless, and poor need help, not religion and regulation.

  7. Stinger
    January 31, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Yep, mark your calendars, folks… I am in full agreement with what the City Council is demanding on this one. They are right, SPA1 (the Antelope Valley) has always been given the short end of the funding stick and it has only gotten worse over the last several years. My only complaint on Parris, et al, on this is that they should have been doing this years ago!

    As for all you complainers on Baker & Grace Resources… I have been at several of these orientations and yes, they definitely do mention God/Jesus (they are a ministry, after all), but I have never seen anybody required to change their faith to get help of any kind. Any time y’all want to pitch in and provide any of those much needed services that Grace Resources provides for the community, feel free to step up and do it.

  8. Irena
    January 31, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    It troubles me that taxpayer’s funds might be used by such a highly religious organization. Religion in and of itself is fine, but it is not fair that for a person to receive help, they must go through a Christian sermon paid for by tax dollars. What if the person needing help was not Christian? Would they be turned away? That doesn’t seem very “Christian”.

    If a group wants to preach to the masses, that is fine, but they should not receive public funds to do so.

  9. ungrateful
    January 31, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    In reading these comments, I was “blown away” I knew Steve back when I volunteered at GR(‘03-‘05), he may be big headed and allowed things get to his head, but otherwise he seemed like a good guy.
    I do not agree with him feeling that he needs to “force” religion upon anyone, but should encourage people to have a personal relationship with God. Maybe that is his intention… You guys just want to complain about something!
    For him to be in charge of GR for all these years he must care,
    The needy get help,
    The facility was there when YOU needed help, obviously, and it’s not in AWFUL condition.

    What ungrateful people!
    Mr(s) How sad & Miss Yabbadabba

    • Stinger
      January 31, 2014 at 9:04 pm


    • OT
      February 1, 2014 at 12:18 am

      Not saying that Steve’s a bad guy, but he gets a salary few others see here in the AV. $160,000 or so? Whether he cares or not, that’s to nice of a chunk o change for anyone to walk away from. Kinda like that Pastor Paul from LBC, when you make as much as these 2 make yearly, makes it hard to believe any claims of love of their fellow man getting them out of bed every morning.

  10. how sad
    January 31, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I have been homeless for 20 years of my life, and I spent 5 of those years being homeless in Lancaster. only one time did I ever stay at the shelter and only one time did I ever go to Grace Resource Center for food. I was so turned off by the experience that I never went back again, and all the homeless people I was hanging around with on Valley Central Way had no desire to go there either. The ONLY thing Grace Resource Center was good for is if you needed money to get an I.D. card. they WOULD help with that.. but everything else they do is almost pointless.. So me and my homeless friends never went there. It was so much easier to panhandle a meal then deal with forced religion (long boring sermon) and the long walk to get there.

    I suspect that if the LAHSA did provide more money, it would just get mismanaged and fill someones pockets and not do the homeless any good.

    I feel that Steve Baker is NOT the right person to be in charge of helping the homeless in Lancaster, he has his own agenda and is hindered by his religious beliefs and loves the power his position gives him. Oh and car dealerships, please don’t donate a new van to Steve Baker, it will just become his personal vehicle like last time it happened. The van the dealership donated was much nicer then his car so he just took it home and it became his personal vehicle.

    Want to help the AV homeless? Then we need someone else besides Steve Baker to be in charge.

    • note...
      January 31, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      if this comment is not approved please let me know why – it seems like in the past some comments do not get approved due to personal bios and opinions of whoever is sitting behind a keyboard, even though rules have not been broken.

    • yabbadabba
      January 31, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      I agree regarding Steve Baker. I had to seek help from Grace Resources (food); you have to agree to receive the Lord as you savior. The first time (1992/93) I went for food, I had to hear a preaching then accept the Lord. I was single mom with 2 teenage boys to feed (no child support). Last year I had to go as we were low on funds; all were given groceries (not healthy, but satisfies the hunger); I didn’t have to receive the Lord that day, but had to sign an agreement stating that before a specified date, I would return, sit for a sermon and receive the Lord. If I did not comply by specified date, I would be unable to get groceries again. Have to restart the process again.
      The Mayor of Lancaster is obligated to investigate how Steve Baker has been running Grace Resources. People should not be afraid to seek help due to a past bad experience.

    • NotVeryReligious
      January 31, 2014 at 8:55 pm

      I have in the past used Grace Resources when I had extreme need. The ‘sermon’ is usually uplifting, even to a non-believer such as myself.

      After I accomplished a better outcome for myself I chose to give food and just a bit of time to Grace Resources. When I say gave food, I mean grew a couple hundred pounds of food and drove it over there and helped to distribute the food.

      I was never pressured to become religious. I was never told to go to church. I was given their blessings as well as other participants giving blessing though they were destitute.

      But to the issue at hand. ALL help organizations can apply for tax dollar funds. The article talks about the Antelope Valley cities demanding the funds from the county to help the homeless, not Grace Resources. The Cities of Lancaster and Palmdale have teamed up with Grace Resources to pool their combined funding to make up for the unequal distribution of YOUR and everybodies taxes.

      I have even been to Steve’s home in the past. Was treated with respect and not pressured into religion, but rather discussion on why I stayed away from religion.

    • USA-USA
      February 1, 2014 at 6:01 am

      20 years! whats up with that?

Comments are closed.