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More homeless seniors on the streets of Glendale, city official says

This year’s annual homeless count appeared to show an uptick in homeless seniors and out-of-towners in Glendale, according to a city official who participated in the homeless census that was conducted Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

Every January, teams that include volunteers, city employees and police officers fan out across Glendale, with the goal of tallying every unsheltered individual in the community.

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That means scouring predetermined locations, including certain city blocks and back alleys “to make sure that we don’t miss anyone that is parked in their car or are on the streets,” said Ivet Samvelyan, a manager with Glendale’s community services and parks department, who said she encountered more seniors during the recent count.

In 2018, there were 260 homeless people in Glendale, according to a city report about last year’s count released last April. The year before that, 169 people were counted, amounting to a 55% year-over-year increase.

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Last year’s census showed 52,765 homeless people in Los Angeles County, according to a report from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, or LAHSA. While the number seems staggering, it marks a 4% drop from the previous year, according to the same report.

Data from the most recent count in Glendale will likely be released in the spring, Samvelyan said. Observations from the recent count are anecdotal.

Glendale currently has two emergency homeless shelters, in addition to several transitional- and permanent-housing programs, “but it is not enough,” Samvelyan said. Last year, 75 people or families were placed in housing, she added.

During this year’s census, Samvelyan said more homeless people who her teams encountered agreed to be part of a more in-depth survey, allowing team members to connect those individuals with support services led by local nonprofit Ascencia, which provides homeless services.

Some of the out-of-towners Samvelyan and her team interacted with said they traveled to Glendale specifically because they knew the city offered support services.

Samvelyan also said she encountered what seemed like more, mostly male, senior citizens, compared to previous years. Some of the homeless seniors said they lost their home after their spouse passed away, and they no longer had sufficient financial means.

This year, the city has roughly $6 million to spend on programs and services for the homeless, a significant hike from $2.8 million last year, said Samvelyan, who oversees grant and funding applications for homeless services for the city.

Funding increased, in part, because of the fact that Glendale’s homeless population more than doubled last year, she said.

With the increased budget, Samvelyan said she hopes to beef up homeless prevention and rental-assistance programs, as well as expand emergency shelters. The goal is to provide people with temporary help, while they’re also connected with job-related services, she said.

Glendale’s count is conducted separately from the city of Los Angeles and L.A. County, though it coordinates with the larger effort handled by LAHSA. Pasadena and Long Beach conduct their own counts.

Data from the local homeless census will be submitted to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which requires all cities conduct a count if they apply for support funding.

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