Thursday, February 22 , 2018, 1:51 pm | Partly Cloudy 61º


Local News

County Supervisors Accept Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure for Lompoc Homeless Shelter

The move aims to keep the Bridgehouse facility open until a long-term solution can be found

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted this week to accept the deed-in-lieu of foreclosure for the Bridgehouse homeless shelter property in Lompoc and to sign a contract with the Good Samaritan Shelter to operate the facility for the rest of the year, following the dissolution of the Lompoc Housing and Community Development Corp. and last-minute closures of their shelters.

With state consent and officially receiving the deed from LHCDC, the shelter at 2025 Sweeney Road can reopen.

County CEO Chandra Waller recommended that the board deny the deed outright because of the financial obligations, adding that owning and operating a shelter is outside the county’s scope of service.

The supervisors view their role as transitional, with the ultimate goal of transferring the property and its role to a nonprofit such as Good Samaritan. They also asked for a forensic audit of the LHCDC to see where the county’s money was going and to have a better grasp on what went so wrong.

The crowd in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting unanimously asked the board to take the deed and find a way to open the shelter as soon as possible, while finding a long-term solution.

Bridgehouse’s closure has greatly affected other county shelters and homeless services, which are already struggling with increased demand for meals and beds.

There are 63 people in Lompoc who need the shelter, and without the 50-bed facility, they’ve been forced to find space in other towns, though those shelters are already operating at over-capacity. Many church warming shelters are open to help fill the need, but the season for that ends by April.

“We’re pushing the limits as to what is reasonable, what is comfortable and what is safe” to avoid turning people away, said Rolf Geyling, executive director of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission. He added that without Bridgehouse, the countywide repercussions would be devastating.

Marks House, the LHCDC’s other shelter, which is much smaller, was taken on by the City of Lompoc and Good Samaritan is running it. Seven of the LHCDC’s affordable housing properties are in bank receivership right now and only two — with private lenders — are not in foreclosure.

“For years your full board voted to give the LHCDC money,” SBCAN advocacy director Joyce Howerton said. “This is a mess — and not just a Lompoc mess, a Lompoc community mess. This is a county mess.”

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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