Burbank, Glendale examine new homeless shelter plan

Glendale doesn't have the money to support the smaller-scale winter homeless shelter that it ran last year with Burbank's financial help, so officials are turning to yet another approach. It will try programs that would operate separately in both cities.

The new plans represent another change for the local winter shelter program for Burbank and Glendale, which last year severed ties with the Los Angeles County-funded system to focus efforts on fewer clients, and on getting those clients into longer-term housing.

The smaller 50-bed shelter at Glendale's National Guard Armory used $151,000, plus an additional $70,000 in grant-funded housing vouchers, to operate the program and place 37 out of 90 participants into transitional or permanent housing.

But this week, Glendale Community Services & Parks Director Jess Duran told City Council members that the city doesn't have the money or the vouchers it had last year to support the same program.

Instead, Glendale and Burbank are relying on Ascencia — the area's largest homeless services nonprofit — to convince the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which administers the countywide program, to give the group money to manage the revised dual-city shelter for local homeless people for three months starting in December.

Glendale's City Council supported Ascencia's plan on Tuesday, but the nonprofit won't know if it will receive funding from the authority until September.

For 12 years, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority funded a 150-bed regional shelter at the Glendale armory, but when it didn't receive applications to operate a shelter there last winter, it let the cities take over the building on Colorado Street.

The county agency has the power to use any armory for winter shelters, but Glendale officials have long complained that regional shelters flood the city with homeless people and increase pressures on public safety and library officials.

Glendale's homeless count dropped 27% to 299 on a one-night count in January compared to the year prior. Officials cited the lack of a county regional shelter in the city for the drop.

“We are very fortunate that we have Ascencia willing to operate a program that's much smaller than the traditional 150-bed proposal,” Duran said.

Ascencia wants to shelter 60 homeless people at the Glendale armory and 20 at a commercial building in Burbank.

Ascencia's executive director, Natalie Profant Komuro, said the group has a commercial building in southeast Burbank in mind, but “it's not firmed up yet.”

Burbank Mayor Dave Golanski, reached by phone this week, said city officials are supportive of the concept, but in the end it depends on whether the county agency gives Ascencia the money.

He added that he hoped the community would be on board with the program, but officials couldn't take the community's temperature until they have a public meeting about it.

But the proposal appeared to have at least political support in Glendale.

“I think we all support the concept,” said Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero, referring to his colleagues on the dais.

Ascencia can cover the 80 beds with $151,000 — the same amount Burbank and Glendale paid for 50 beds last year — because the nonprofit already has case management and other homeless services in place.

“It nestles into the bigger program that we operate,” Profant Komuro said, adding that daily activities will take place off-site at Ascencia's intake center in the San Fernando Corridor.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has $2.5 million with which to fund shelters this coming winter, but it received $3.2 million in requests, said agency spokesman Peter Griffith.

Ascencia was the only group that asked to use the Glendale armory, Griffith added.

Glendale Councilwoman Laura Friedman said she hoped county funding would come through for the program, which she described as a “good fit” for the city.

“I hope we're not left trying to scramble to find the funding,” she said. 

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