Area homeless numbers surge

Frigid overnight temperatures have led to an influx of homeless in the city, some of whom have been erecting tents and loitering at a park near the Adult Recreation Center, intimidating seniors who use the space to do tai chi, city officials said.

In one case, officials found one tent that had a microwave. Last weekend, some transients began fighting.

Many of those who have been causing problems at Glendale Central Library or in the park are homeless people who don’t use the emergency winter shelter at the National Guard Armory on Colorado Boulevard. Homeless outreach workers said at a City Hall meeting this week that they plan to stress the importance of respecting public property to shelter clients in hopes that they can influence their friends who may misbehave.

On cold nights, the shelter has been housing up to 100 people a night — above their 80-bed capacity — ahead of their March 1 closing date.

Alfred Hernandez, an outreach worker, said he tries to take homeless people to an access center run by Ascencia, the nonprofit that also operates the shelter, after the armory closes for the day.

“It’s a constant battle,” he said.

Some homeless have been stuffing library toilets with paper products, messing with the plumbing, while others have left human waste outside a closed restroom by the Adult Recreation Center.

The reports were a sharp change from last month when city officials gave glowing reviews of homeless activities.

Despite the park issues, Fire Capt. Jeff Ragusa said the homeless have not been a drain on fire resources like in the past.

“This year is even less of an impact than last year,” Ragusa said.

Last year, the cities of Glendale and Burbank converted the National Guard Armory into a 50-bed shelter limited to homeless people referred by local nonprofits.

Out of money this year, the cities gave up on their pilot project. In December, the shelter converted back to a county-funded, come one, come all, operation. Although the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority has funded a 150-bed shelter at the armory in the past, the one Ascencia is running this year is limited to 80 beds.

Ian Costello, winter shelter program coordinator at Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, said Glendale’s program is one of the best in the county.

“Glendale is doing a fantastic job,” he said.

Mary Leasure, shelter program director, said her goal is to help shelter users transition into housing.

“The sense of self-defeat can be very overwhelming,” she said.

Due to the National Guard’s schedule, the final days of the three-month shelter, Feb 28 and March 1, are set to take place at a local church.


Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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