Homeless count rises in Glendale

The number of homeless people on Glendale’s streets increased 7% from last year to 320, according to the latest figures released this week.

The number of transients with mental illnesses and substance abuse issues also ticked up, officials reported, prompting calls for greater focus on detoxification programs, which are missing from the city’s coalition of homeless services providers.

“Detox is a big gap in our community,” said Glendale’s Homeless Services Coordinator Ivet Samvelyan at a meeting with the city’s nonprofit service providers Thursday. “It seems to be a big problem for our homeless population.”

Of the homeless population surveyed during the January 30 count, 12% suffered from both substance abuse and a serious mental illness — up from 5% last year.

[For the Record, March 29, 2012: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the 7% uptick as occuring last year. In fact, the greater number of transients was in comparison to 2012.]

Officials attributed the slight overall bump to the return of a larger emergency winter shelter operation. Glendale’s largest homeless services provider, Ascencia, operated an 80-bed shelter out of the Glendale National Guard Armory, which on many nights took in more than the designated capacity.

Last year, the cities of Glendale and Burbank operated a strict 50-bed program out of the armory on Colorado Boulevard, during which the homeless population dropped by nearly 29% to 293 — down from 299 transients originally reported by the city.

This year’s shelter served 541 individuals — 40% of whom said they were from Glendale and Burbank — over three months starting Dec. 1. Of the 257 adults counted during the January census, 37% said they became homeless in Glendale, compared to 31% the year prior. Children are not asked the question.

Ascencia placed 13 of those who used the shelter in temporary housing and nine in stable housing, program director Mary Leasure said.

“It did make a huge difference in getting some people off the streets,” she said.

But due to automatic spending cuts in the federal budget, known as sequestration, city officials expect homeless services to suffer.

The $255,394 promised to the city for emergency shelters is set to be cut by nearly 10% in July and the city expects to lose $350,000 of the $2.6 million it planned to use to fund other housing programs and homeless services in the city during fiscal year 2014-15.

And other federal funding sources the city has historically relied on — such as Community Development Block Grants — to fill in the gaps for administration of homeless services are also being cut.

“This is really, really scary for all of us,” Samvelyan said, adding that the homeless coalition — made up of Ascencia, Door of Hope, Burbank Temporary Aid Center, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services and other nonprofits — will have to work together and search for more private funding sources.

More facts about Glendale homeless:

Of the 320 homeless counted on Glendale’s streets during the survey in January:

  • 20% were children, compared to 26% last year
  • 9% were veterans, compared to 5% last year
  • 63% were adults between 18 and 61, compared to 55% last year
  • 36% were persons in families, compared to 45% last year

Source: City of Glendale

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