City stirs up shelter plans

Glendale’s plan to break with Los Angeles County and create its own, smaller, homeless winter shelter could complicate the emergency shelter plans of other agencies.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority this week rejected Glendale’s request for $40,000 to help pay for a 50-bed winter shelter targeted at local transients. The agency could choose to go it alone at the city’s only option for a shelter site — the National Guard Armory, at 220 E. Colorado St. — leaving Glendale out in the cold.

The outcome of discussions between the two cities could have major implications for Burbank and what it decides to do for its own homeless population. Burbank typically works with Glendale to handle winter shelter operations.

Glendale officials want to operate their own program out of the city’s National Guard Armory, the site of a 150-bed regional shelter the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority typically pays to host there.

But Peter Griffith, a spokesman for the authority, said there was no money for shelters outside the county program. And if Glendale limits its shelter to 50 beds, the county will have to fill in the gap with an alternate location, he said.

Before the two sides met on Wednesday, the Glendale City Council approved a plan to cut ties with the authority in favor of its own program. Operating that program would cost $151,000, with $51,000 allocated from the city’s General Fund. The rest would be covered by a tentative $50,000 commitment from Burbank and a $50,000 federal grant.

Glendale had hoped the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority would cover the armory’s $40,000 rent, bringing the city’s share down to $11,000.

The authority has paid the rent in the past for its own shelter in Glendale, but has never been asked to subsidize another program, Griffith said.

The authority has also yet to give Glendale the OK to use the armory for its own program — a decision that may not come until after Aug. 24, when information about available locations for shelters is finalized, Griffith said.

“The conversation will continue with Glendale, the city of Los Angeles, the county and LAHSA to address concerns,” Griffith said.

Glendale officials do not have an optional venue in mind for the three-month shelter, which is set to open Dec. 15, said Jess Duran, Glendale’s director of community services and parks.

The Burbank City Council is scheduled in coming days to weigh its options for its participation in the winter shelter program — a discussion that could be impacted by the outcome in Glendale. It is not clear whether Burbank would open its armory on Valhalla Drive this winter if the city decides against partnering with Glendale.

LAHSA surveys conducted in both cities found an estimated 412 homeless people in Glendale and 220 in Burbank.

More than 80% of the homeless who used the armory last year came from outside Glendale and Burbank, many from Los Angeles, according to a Glendale city report.

City Manager Jim Starbird has said the regional shelter brings more transients to the city, putting added stress on public safety services.

But county officials say the impacts of regional winter shelters on communities are overblown.

“We believe we are good neighbors,” Griffith said.

Ruth Schwartz — executive director of the nonprofit Shelter Partnership, which works to alleviate homelessness — said both cities should refrain from trying to close themselves off to what is regional problem.

“There are a lot of homeless people in the north L.A. County, Burbank, Glendale, South Pasadena corridor,” Schwartz said. “L.A. does several and they don’t check where people come from. I don’t know why Burbank and Glendale should be checking where people come from.”
 
 

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