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Glendale’s annual homeless count relies on community to help those in need

Later this month, the city of Glendale will conduct its annual homeless and subpopulation count, which helps bring awareness to the overall homeless population in the city and provide pathways to housing for some affected individuals.

Similar to the homeless count conducted by the neighboring Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, or LAHSA, the Glendale count is designed to determine how many people in Glendale are experiencing homelessness on any given day or night.

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The count is mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in order for the city to receive federal funding. The city of Glendale's Continuum of Care Board of Directors, Community Services and Parks Department as well as area homeless service providers annually conduct the count during the last week of January.

A report on Glendale's 2017 count found a 30% decrease in the overall homeless population compared to 2016, from 240 to 168 persons.

Although partially due to the absence of a winter shelter program, the drop was also attributed to the city's Continuum of Care — a local system charged with coordinating funds for homeless housing and services — and the Coordinated Entry System, which assesses and prioritizes those seeking assistance.

Ivet Samvelyan, a community services manager with the city, said Glendale's homeless intervention is successful because of support from city officials and the community.

"We have great support from our council and executives overseeing homeless programs," she said. "We also have great community support from the Glendale Continuum of Care — it's not just Parks Department staff, it is all the nonprofits that provide direct services," she said.

Samvelyan is referring to partner agencies that include Ascencia, the local YWCA and Salvation Army of Glendale.

While not faced with the same homelessness crisis and housing shortage as L.A., Samvelyan said Glendale is still dealing with similar challenges, such as identifying and recruiting new landlords who would expand the available housing inventory.

The city of Glendale last year implemented an incentive program that offers up to $1,200 to landlords as a stimulus to work with homeless programs. The funds help keep rooms vacant for consideration of an applicant who is homeless.

"We've had really successful transitions because of that program, but we still need more landlords to help us," Samvelyan said.

Recently, the Los Angeles County Workforce Development, Aging, and Community Service Department gave $100,000 in Measure H funds for Glendale's Regional Immediate Intervention Service to Employment program, or RIISE.

The pilot program is designed to provide homeless adults with training, mentorship and job placement to create a path toward long-term employment.

"It's the love and passion from the community that supports and transitions homeless persons from the streets to housing," Samvelyan said. "It's improving the quality of life for all the residents when everyone's involved in addressing and ending homelessness in the community."

This year's homeless count will take place on Jan. 23 and 24.

For more information about Glendale's homeless count, visit bit.ly/2DaYKTY.

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Twitter: @JeffLanda

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