The lo­gis­tics of liv­ing in Santa Clarita

Lo­cal agen­cies hold pub­lic fo­rum to try and find room­mates, af­ford­able hous­ing for women in need of help

The Signal - - FRONT PAGE - By Gina En­der Sig­nal Staff Writer

Sis­ters in Time, a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort be­tween lo­cal agen­cies to get women con­nected with room­mates and af­ford­able hous­ing, held their first pub­lic fo­rum on Wed­nes­day.

The group of about 20 was com­prised of women who needed hous­ing and women who wanted to help.

“If this wasn’t a prob­lem, we wouldn’t be here,” Bridge to Home Board Pres­i­dent Peggy Ed­wards said. “It seems like for the most part, this is vi­able.”

Rent­ing is so ex­pen­sive in Santa Clarita that a sin­gle per­son would have to earn over $26 an hour to af­ford a two-bed­room apart­ment, Ed­wards said.

The women all seemed to agree that ad­dress­ing the af­ford­able hous­ing cri­sis by get­ting room­mates was a good idea. Not one of them spoke about the lack of a need or de­sire for this sort of pro­gram.

Break­ing into fo­cus groups, the women dis­cussed the ben­e­fits, bar­ri­ers and un­re­solved ques­tions they had re­gard­ing shared hous­ing.

At­ten­dees dove straight into how to go about this process prac­ti­cally, cit­ing a need to match room­mates by liv­ing style and com­mon in­ter­ests.

“We can set up a ba­sic sort of guide­line and then ne­go­ti­ate finer de­tails,” for­mer plan­ning com­mis­sioner Diane Trautman said. “It is about ne­go­ti­at­ing the tech­ni­cal as­pects of this.”

Whether some­one smokes, has a pet, likes to watch tele­vi­sion at night or eats the same food

seemed to be larger con­cerns to at­ten­dees.

“A dif­fer­ence in life­style I think could be a huge bar­rier,” Bridge to Home Di­rec­tor of Pro­grams Chris Na­jarro said.

Rules for hav­ing fam­ily over, bed times and cul­tural dif­fer­ences ought to be con­sid­ered when match­ing room­mates, ac­cord­ing to Na­jarro.

Main­tain­ing a sense of pri­vacy is ma­jor con­cern for se­nior women, es­pe­cially re­gard­ing hav­ing one’s own bath­room, ac­cord­ing to Se­nior Cen­ter Di­rec­tor of Vol­un­teers, Recreation and Ed­u­ca­tion Robin Clough.

“Right now we just want to make sure none of our se­niors are home­less,” Clough said. “The se­niors I speak to would al­most pre­fer to be home­less than to not have their own space.”

Rep­re­sent­ing the Canyon Coun­try Se­nior Apart­ments Com­mu­nity Ten­ant As­so­ci­a­tion, Vir­ginia Ken­nelly said it will be im­por­tant to ne­go­ti­ate with land­lords to en­sure se­niors are treated fairly.

“Some of the com­plexes, if you have a room­mate, they want to jack up the rent prices,” Ken­nelly said.

Ne­go­ti­at­ing rental con­tracts and dis­cussing avail­able park­ing spa­ces should be at the fore­front of th­ese con­ver­sa­tions, Ken­nelly said.

One group em­pha­sized the need to look for “hid­den hous­ing,” such as rooms for rent in homes, in­stead of tra­di­tional apart­ments.

Women also dis­cussed the need for a sort of res­i­den­tial ad­vi­sor to touch base with room­mates to en­sure the ar­range­ment is run­ning smoothly and re­solve any con­flicts.

If there are prob­lems that can­not be re­solved, some at­ten­dees sug­gested de­vis­ing an exit plan to help women find an­other place to live.

Mostly, the women were look­ing to live with some­one they could de­pend on, ac­cord­ing to Jolynn Burt.

“We’re look­ing out for each other and mak­ing sure some­body has our back,” Burt said. “That is huge, I think.”

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