Simi Valley comes through to save the Samaritan Center

Simi_Valley-301x186At their July 21st meeting the Simi Valley Council voted for an aggressive program to alleviate the City’s homeless problem, Citizens Journal story HERE  One of the key elements to the program’s success was the Samaritan Center, which was established in 1994.  The Center would provide the homeless displaced from their illegal encampments with temporary shelter, meals, showers, counseling along with other services. However, the Center faced a major problem of its own.  It did not receive a grant that helped fund it for every year for the last ten years.  It left the non-profit with a $60,000 deficit.  With an annual budget of over $210,000 a year, and the last quarter of 2014 remaining, its board considered closing the Center on September 1st.

Simi Valley Mayor Bob Huber asked that stopgap funding to prevent its closure be put on the Council’s August 25th agenda.

City Manager Eric Levitt did a short presentation.  The Center provides critical services to the City, such as a food bank.  However, on an ongoing basis Samaritan would require more dollars than the City could provide.  Levitt did go and look over the non-profit’s books and confirmed that they are having a cash flow problem.  But he insisted the shortfall is not a structural deficit ( a reoccurring shortfall).  The City Manager felt that the Center’s problem was a community issue.  He was concerned the City’s involvement would have a long term effect with other non-profits coming forward to ask for funding.

Betty Eskey has been the executive director of the Samaritan Center since 2006.  Speaking to the council she testified that they have been cutting expenses.  The Center has five employees, having just let go the armed security guard.  That guard was a large expense, needed because of AB 109 when the State let prisoners out early to return them to their communities (prisoner realignment).  Eskey said they were serving a number of the former inmates at the Center.  “But that’s calmed down now.”  They also cut their utility expenses by only providing laundry facilities two days a week.

Councilman Mike Judge said, “I support everything they do, but don’t want to see the funds come from the City.” 

During Public Comments Simi Valley Hospital came up forward with $15,000.

Councilman Glen Becerra asked Eskey: “What’s the (funding) gap right now?”

The Director answered that from the community and two civil agencies they had $34,000 of the $60,000, not including what the hospital had just pledged. “There’s a lot more coming.”  With grant funds drying up the Community of Simi Valley stepped into help.  Just with what was collected before the meeting the September 1st closing has been pushed off for two months.

The City Manager said there are $150,000 in community monies, from waste management that are outside the General Fund.  Of that maybe $10,000 to $15,000 tops of those funds could be used to help the Samaritan Center.

Eskey said that one citizen has started a 300 Club, 300 citizens pledging $50 per month would provide $15,000 in funding a month.  A riding club just had a fund-raiser in Moorpark for the Center.  They will benefit from Comedy for a Cause.  There are things are happening.  “Don’t feel like you’ll be putting a plug in it.” Eskey said, speaking of the funding gap.

Becerra made a motion  to use $15,000 from the waste management monies to fund the Center. Mayor Huber seconded it. The motion passed 5 to 0.

If you would like to donate go to the Center’s website: HERE  Or mail in a check to Samaritan Center P.O. Box 940568, Simi Valley, CA 93094. Make the check payable to the Samaritan Center of Simi Valley.

Debra Tash is Editor-in-Chief of Citizensjournal.us, past president for Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, business executive and award-winning author, residing in Somis.

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One Response to Simi Valley comes through to save the Samaritan Center

  1. Betty Eskey August 28, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    We are restoring lives at The Samaritan Center.

    The Samaritan Center clients and staff are so grateful to the community for their support during this financial crisis.
    THANK YOU SIMI VALLEY, ALL OF VENTURA COUNTY AND BEYOND FOR YOUR OUT REACH AND IN REACH FOR OUR CLIENTS.

    Reply

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