Good Samaritan to reopen Bridgehouse in Lompoc

2012-03-04T00:15:00Z Good Samaritan to reopen Bridgehouse in LompocBy John Sakata/Staff writer Santa Maria Times

After receiving the keys to the Bridgehouse homeless shelter Friday from the county, Good Samaritan Shelter plans to reopen the 56-bed shelter for emergency services by next Friday.

Good Samaritan Executive Director Sylvia Barnard said her staff will work quickly to resume services because the Marks House shelter, which serves homeless families, is currently at capacity and has a waiting list, and Lompoc’s emergency warming shelter is serving 20 to 25 homeless each night.

There are even 17 homeless residents who have traveled to Santa Maria to seek shelter at Good Samaritan’s emergency shelter, Barnard said.

Following Santa Barbara County’s decision Feb. 21 to reach an agreement with the Lompoc Housing Community Development Corp. to run Bridgehouse through June 30, important developments are creating a short-term solution to the homeless problem in Lompoc.

Good Samaritan on Thursday signed a contract with the county to act as a interim homeless shelter operator. Regional foundations have stepped up to bridge funding through the fiscal year for both the Marks House and Bridgehouse, she said.

The Santa Barbara Foundation, the Wood-Claeyssen’s Foundation, the Hutton Foundation, Orfalea Foundation, and other organizations have donated $39,000, Barnard said.

“Amazingly, they didn’t ask me to write one grant,” Barnard said. “They were willing to support us when we stepped in. The foundations have been an amazing support system for saving the shelters and addressing the crisis.”

County Community Service Director Herman Parker said that the county will provide up to $11,500 a month to Good Samaritan to run the shelter.

Good Samaritan is acting as an interim manager of homeless services; the county will accept applications for a permanent manager sometime in the future “Right now we are where we want to be,” Parker said. “We’ve got the facility in the hands of a competent nonprofit and they are trying to open the facility as soon as they can.”

In the coming week, the attention turns to fixing up the Bridgehouse so that it can resume operations. Barnard said she has hired four full-time staff to run the facility, three who will stay overnight.

Good Samaritan is “cleaning everything from top to bottom,” providing paint to the smaller of the two buildings, and bringing in supplies.

Barnard said that the building still needs towels, industrial size pots and pans, and paper plates. She also said she would like to coordinate with local churches to have meals provided to the homeless and find a way to get bus passes so the homeless don’t have to worry about walking along the highway into Lompoc, she said.

Anybody interested in providing donations can call 346-8185.

Barnard said that once the Bridgehouse is reopened it will serve as a emergency shelter and the Marks House will return to its use as a transitional home for those looking to get back on their feet. Currently, the Marks House is housing homeless families on an emergency basis.

In the past, the Marks House has only been open to women with children, but she said she would like to allow men with families to use the facility as well.

There are two to three families on the waiting list, Barnard said.

“I believe Good Samaritan was ready for the additional responsibilities,” Barnard said. “We’ve been building our administrative capacity the last couple years. We’ve stabilized our finances, we’re compliant on everything. ... I think we’re as stable as could be.”

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