Glendale winter shelter to gain more beds

A larger winter shelter is coming to Glendale in December, but plans to create a smaller satellite version in Burbank have fallen through.

Ascencia, Glendale's largest nonprofit homeless services provider, plans to host an 80-bed shelter at the National Guard Armory on Colorado Boulevard for three months — larger than the 50-bed version hosted by the cities of Glendale and Burbank at the armory last winter.

Ascencia had planned to host a 60-bed shelter at the armory this year and a concurrent 20-bed shelter in Burbank, but an exhaustive search of roughly 30 buildings there came up short.

“Private property owners are trying to find permanent tenants, not 90-day tenants,” said Ruth Davidson-Guerra, Burbank's assistant community development director who helped Ascencia with the search.

Ascencia plans to pay for the winter shelter with funding from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which on Friday granted the nonprofit roughly $89,000. Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich's office also gave about $62,000 of funds earmarked for homeless prevention.

Funding for winter homeless shelters this year was tight, with $3.2 million in requests outstripping the $2.5 million available.

Last year, the joint powers authority didn't receive any requests to run a 150-bed regional winter shelter at the Glendale armory as in years past, so Glendale and Burbank stepped in, pulling together $151,000 in city and grant funds to host a 50-bed shelter focused on local homeless.

It had two goals: reduce the number of regional transients coming to Glendale and temporarily house homeless people using $70,000 in grant-funded housing vouchers.

Glendale's homeless count subsequently dropped 27% to 299 people on a one-night count in January compared to the year prior, officials said.

But Glendale didn't have the funds to repeat last year's pilot program after closing a $15.4-million budget gap. Ascencia, which runs a yearlong shelter, stepped in to fill in the void.

“On the one hand you're sucking in your breath saying ‘Oh my God, what have we gotten ourselves into,' then on the other we're really excited about making this work,” said Natalie Profant Komuro, executive director of Ascencia.

The nonprofit doesn't have the vouchers Glendale and Burbank had to house 37 of its 90 shelter participants last year, but it still plans to provide more services than a typical shelter, such as case management and housing referrals.

“We're getting calls already from people asking about the winter shelter,” Profant Komuro said, adding that Ascencia plans to work with Burbank Temporary Aid Center to get the word out.

Since Ascencia received county funds, it must keep the shelter open to any transient who shows up, but the focus will be on local homeless. Due to its size, the shelter — which may open Dec. 1 or Dec. 15 — won't be the regional draw that the 150-bed programs were in the past, Profant Komuro said.

“Because we have this bed limit, with the priority on local people, it's not going to be the same,” she said.

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