Ascencia holds celebration for national goal
A Glendale agency held a local celebration for a national accomplishment to fight homelessness Wednesday, pitching in on an effort to find and house 100,000 of the country’s most vulnerable and chronically homeless.
Glendale-based Ascencia, which provides housing and support services for the homeless, joined in the national effort called the 100,000 Homes Campaign in May 2011 with a census of the city’s homeless.
On Wednesday morning, representatives for the national campaign announced they had reached the goal, said Natalie Profant-Komuro, Ascencia’s executive director.
“We just wanted to do our part and share in the celebration,” Profant-Komuro said.
When they started on the project, Profant-Komuro and Ivet Samvelyan, the city’s homeless program supervisor, thought they could house only 10 people.
“We don’t have a lot of resources in Glendale,” Profant-Komuro said. “We have a lot of heart, but we don’t have a lot of resources.
By October 2011, Ascencia housed its first 10 people and, as of this month, the agency has housed 68 people, Profant-Komuro said.
“Talk about knocking our goal out of the park,” she added.
Ascencia has also been making headway in finding housing for homeless veterans, which is another component of the 100,000 Homes Campaign.
“At the moment, we’re only aware of one veteran in the city of Glendale that isn’t housed,” she said.
Finding housing for the homeless can also result in taxpayer cost savings.
The estimated cost savings a year per homeless person who finds housing is $13,000, Profant-Komuro said, but it can jump up to as much as $60,000 annually for homeless people who are chronically ill because of the costs to the hospitals they visit frequently and emergency personnel.
“It makes more sense to invest in ending homelessness than to, essentially what we say is, [do] nothing,” Profant-Komuro said. “It’s costing us a lot. It’s costing us financially. It’s costing us morally. And it’s costing us in lost souls.”
Ken Lasch, a World War II veteran, was the first homeless person Ascencia found a home for back in 2011.
He was living in his car at the time. While outside a local library, he started talking to Alfred Hernandez, an Ascencia outreach worker, and decided to look into the agency’s services. From there, Ascencia found him a one-bedroom apartment.
“It was like a chain,” he said, referring to the events leading to the end of his homelessness. “It changed my life.”
Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam.