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County to Open 9 More Homeless Shelters

Times Staff Writer

Nine additional Los Angeles County emergency shelters will open Monday, giving the county’s homeless population more places to come in from the cold.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the city-county agency that administers shelter programs, has seven others open year-round. The authority provides 2,000 beds through its countywide network of shelters operated by churches, social service agencies and National Guard armories, officials said.

Shelters will be open from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily to provide a place to sleep, hot meals and access to housing assistance, job support and other services, officials said.

This year, all county shelters will offer expanded medical and mental health care through a two-year, $600,000 grant from the California Endowment, officials said. Six health-care providers will treat homeless clients either on-site or in mobile medical units.

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“This is particularly gratifying, because it is the first time we have been able to combine private and government funding to enhance services to homeless clients,” said Mitchell Netburn, executive director of the authority.

Many homeless men and women have minor medical conditions that can turn into a serious problems if left untreated because they don’t have access to routine medical care, Netburn said.

“The long-term goal is to provide an ongoing relationship with homeless individuals and refer them to clinics and hospitals so they can receive treatment throughout the year,” he said.

Los Angeles County Mental Health Services will also provide more services than in previous years, said Scott Milbourn, the county’s emergency shelter program coordinator.

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“The goal is to work with folks who have mental health issues to get them housing, a job, counseling and treatment for their mental health disorders and other problems, such as substance abuse,” Milbourn said. “We are very excited about it.”

Even with the expanded programs, Netburn said the homeless authority’s ultimate goal is to keep all 16 of its facilities open year-round.

“People need a bed, a roof over their heads and security 365 days a year,” he said.

Traditional winter shelters, such as those at National Guard armories, receive mostly federal funding and are open from Dec. 1 to March 15, he said.

Among the shelters open in Los Angeles year-round is the Trudy and Norman Louis Valley Shelter on Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood. Each night, about 140 to 150 men and women seek one of the 125 cots available there, said John Horn, program director for L.A. Family Housing, which runs the shelter for the authority.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted in September to earmark $2.5 million to extend shelter operations from March 16 to Nov. 30, providing an estimated 430 beds, Netburn said.

Even so, officials say about 10,000 more emergency shelter beds are needed in the county.

The county provides bus service to shelters. For information, call the winter shelter hotline at (800) 548-6047.

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