Shelter set for Dec. 1 opening

DOWNTOWN — The regional winter homeless shelter is set to open Dec. 1 at the Glendale National Guard Armory, but it could be the last one funded by Los Angeles County as city officials continue to explore options for going it alone.

EIMAGO, a subsidiary of the Union Rescue Mission of Los Angeles, was awarded a contract from the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority to run the overnight emergency shelter from Dec. 1 to March 15 at the armory on Colorado Street, said Ivet Samvelyan, the city's homeless services coordinator.

Up to 150 people will be allowed to shower, eat and sleep nightly at the shelter.

PATH Achieve Glendale, the largest local homeless services provider, will provide case management services as they try to place clients in transitional housing.

"Our ultimate goal is to place all homeless clients or families into housing," Samvelyan said.

Officials are expecting to see more families at this year's shelter since many have continued to lose homes and jobs in the poor economy.

People who use the shelter will have access to numerous resources to help them out of homelessness, Samvelyan said.

At this year's Homeless Connect Day on Dec. 14, organizers plan to provide haircutting and grooming services for clients and their pets, said Christina Hanna, a social services assistant with PATH Achieve.

About 30 service providers have already committed to helping homeless people find help during the event, she said.

Officials saw an increase in the number of homeless people who visited the shelter during the 2009-10 season, counting 914 people and 78 families, according to a city report, up from 549 individuals and 27 families the year prior.

While the program saw a jump in the number of people seen at the shelter, most of those who went there were not from Glendale.

About 11% of the people served at this year's shelter lived in Glendale; 3.2% were from Burbank; 4.9% were from Pasadena, and 85.5% said they were from other areas, including Los Angeles, according to the report.

In an effort to focus more on the local homeless population, the City Council has considered giving up the county-funded program for one supported with local funding, which would allow officials to keep the clientele limited to locals.

Plans for a locally run shelter are still in the works, Samvelyan said, but would likely house 50 beds instead of 150.

So far, the city has identified Urban Initiatives, a nonprofit community-based organization, as the shelter's service provider, but is still looking for a site and additional funding options, she said.

At this winter shelter, Samvelyan said staffers plan to advise local homeless people of a possible city-run facility.

"It's really critical that the clients are interested in working with the program," she said.

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