Glendale's homeless count down by about a quarter

The number of homeless people on Glendale streets dropped to 299 on a one-night count, a 27% decrease compared with last year's count, according to a city report.

Officials attributed the reduction to a smaller local winter shelter that cut the number of available beds from 150 to 50.

For years, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority paid a contractor to run a 150-bed shelter at Glendale's National Guard Armory. Local officials had long complained that the regional shelters attracted transients from outside the area.

So last winter, the cities of Glendale and Burbank leveraged city money and grant funds to operate a $150,000 experimental shelter at the armory from December through March that raised the threshold for admitting clients who were referred by local service providers.

Limiting the shelter to local referrals only appears to have tamped down the annual influx of transients lured by the regional operation.

“I expected to have less homeless persons reported, mainly due to the fact that Glendale did not host the regional shelter program,” Homeless Services Coordinator Ivet Samvelyan said in an email.

Of the 299 homeless people counted on a night in 2012:

79 were children under 17.

166 were adults between 18 and 61.

67 were older than 62.

94 became homeless in Glendale.

14 were veterans.

People are considered homeless if they live in places not meant for human habitation, such as cars or parks, or in emergency or transitional housing, according to the report.

The city, in partnership with Ascencia, Glendale's largest homeless services provider, has pledged to end homelessness among local military veterans by July 2013.

In 2011, there were 412 homeless people in Glendale, 38 of them veterans, according to the report. Officials have since housed 20 homeless veterans using increased federal housing and veteran assistance funds.

“Glendale will continue to see new funding to prioritize and serve veterans,” Samvelyan said, as that's where federal resources are being targeted.

Compared to Glendale, Los Angeles County has a much higher percentage of homeless veterans, according to the latest data collected in 2011. Of the 51,430 homeless people in the county, 18% are veterans, up from 15% in 2009.

The Glendale City Council plans to review the homeless count and discuss the future of the experimental shelter in July.

At the same time, Ascencia may apply for funds through the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to run a 60-bed shelter in Glendale and a 20-bed shelter in Burbank, said Executive Director Natalie Profant Komuro.

Lessons learned from Glendale's 50-bed program piqued Ascencia's interest in running next winter's shelter, she said.

And since major shelter operators have expressed little interest in serving the Glendale-Burbank region, Ascencia has a better chance at securing funding, Profant Komuro added.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority plans to spend $2.4 million on 1,258 beds next winter. Last year, the authority had about $3.1 million to cover 1,498 beds, said spokesman Peter Griffith.

Meanwhile, Ascencia is courting religious groups to volunteer their sites for the shelters. The nonprofit may also need to raise at least $50,000 to cover the gap between the funding grant and operating costs, Komuro said.

“I'm feeling hopeful that we're going to get the support we need to make this happen,” Profant Komuro said.

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