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Home for Now
April, 2022 - Issue #209
Every spring, I watch the latest installment of a recurring series. A pair of wrens - little brown birds about the size of a mouse, with a voice substantially larger - start hopping through the fence line shrubs, looking for a home. One nest was in a tree hole, another in the birdhouse and the most recent in a pile of terra cotta pots, substantially delaying spring gardening. Each year, it takes weeks of scouting before they seem to pick the exact spot they want to call home. They're lucky in that. Not everyone in Santa Clarita can be so choosy. Sometimes, home seems more a question of fate or circumstance than of choice.

"In a testament to Claritans' BETTER ANGELS, many local groups and individuals have been providing donations, goods and services, like English classes and career help."
Far From War
When Russia invaded Ukraine, a love of family, community and country heartened the many Ukrainians who stayed to fight. But the same love of home that was their source of strength became an immense source of pain for others who had to flee. Many mothers, children and elderly left suddenly and without knowing when, or even if, they would be able to return home again. Most are in Europe, but some Ukrainian refugees began landing in LAX mere days after fighting broke out.
For the past couple of months, Santa Clarita has been hosting another group of refugees - about 130 men, women and children from Afghanistan. They had to leave their homes when Kabul fell to the Taliban after the chaotic US withdrawal last year. In a testament to Claritans' better angels, many local groups and individuals have been providing donations, goods and services, like English classes and career help. Significant challenges still lie ahead. Santa Clarita has been labeled a "temporary" home of a matter of months for most. It's expensive, especially for refugees starting from scratch in a new country. If Santa Clarita isn't their ultimate home, let's hope it's been a welcoming stop on the way.

New Ground
Homelessness is a major, perhaps the major, local issue on the minds of people throughout Los Angeles. According to a poll conducted by The LA Times and The LA Business Council Institute, 94 percent of voters consider it a serious or very serious problem. And with mid-term elections in the not-too-distant future, anyone who's running for office will be expected to have solutions - preferably the kind that work. City Manager Ken Striplin shared a statistic that hints at the scale of the challenge. In just one year, some five-and-a-half tons of refuse were collected from homeless camps in Santa Clarita.
Work to help the homeless population is on-going. Santa Clarita has a task force, it partners with LA County to provide services and it canvasses the homeless population each winter. But nothing quite says "action" like shovels in the ground. Last month, Bridge to Home started work on its new facility that can house and support 60 individuals. This is in addition to a transitional housing project that Family Promise broke ground on last year. Obviously, there's no "one" solution, but are these some of the compassionate and effective actions we've been waiting for? Let's hope so.

Critter Homes
Some less heavy news in order. How about the fuzzy kind? Santa Clarita's City Council recently had an informal but promising public discussion about building a new animal shelter in the City of Santa Clarita. Several local residents presented the idea. The proposed no-kill facility would connect people with pets looking to find a forever home, perhaps relieving some of the burden on the Castaic Animal Shelter. It sounds like good news for all parties involved. In the meantime, keep supporting other shelters. Doctors report that dog owners have lower blood pressure than the pet-less, so adopt as many as your personal cardiovascular situation requires.
And for critters that prefer to run, hop, crawl, fly and slither in wilder homes, a new sliver of open space has been secured. LA County awarded a $1 million grant to purchase 400 acres of land in eastern Santa Clarita around the "Tick Canyon" area. Perhaps the city can furnish funds to workshop a better name. The acquisition helps fortify the green belt growing around the valley. Whether SCV is the home we chose or a home of circumstance, surely we can make sure that SCV's creatures can have a home to heart, too.
This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor. Suggestions and catty comments intended for the author can be e-mailed to iheartscv@insidescv.com.
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