Francisco Lovato has been out of steady work for more than a year. The handyman takes up landscaping jobs now and then, but it's not enough to get him off the streets.
He ended up on Monday night at Glendale's emergency winter shelter at 437 Fernando Court with about 50 other people looking for a warm place to sleep.
“I needed shelter,” he said
Lovato, 57, said he owned a house in Van Nuys until the mortgage outpaced his earnings, even though he worked seven days a week, juggling a job at a hardware store and a side business cleaning pools.
For almost all of the past 16 years, the shelter operated out of the Glendale National Guard Armory on Colorado Boulevard. This year, the shelter moved to Fernando Court, an industrial street near the edge of the city.
When the shelter was at the armory, patrons at the Glendale Central Library, Adult Recreation Center and nearby retailers complained about the influx of homeless that came when the facility opened its doors. In 2011, city officials tried to minimize the number of homeless in the area by reducing a once 150-bed regional shelter at the armory to a 50-bed one, but the pilot program only lasted one season when Glendale ran out of money.
Last winter, Ascencia, Glendale's largest homeless services provider, took over the 90-day shelter, and set up 80 beds, although the nonprofit often went over capacity.
Ascencia is once again operating an 80-bed shelter, but this year, the organization extended its lease to run the facility mainly out of its former offices on Fernando Court. Seventy beds are at the Fernando Court facility and 10 beds are at Ascencia's new location at 1851 Tyburn Street.
Ascencia is using a roughly $145,000 grant from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, a joint powers authority run by the county and city of Los Angeles and $7,500 from the city of Glendale to pay for the shelter, which will stay open through March 1.
During the day, Ascencia outreach workers hand out fliers to homeless people in Glendale, Burbank and northeast Los Angeles to let them know that the shelter is at a new location.
The shelter has been getting about 50 homeless people a day. However, shelter workers say, as the weather gets colder and General Relief checks — which are federal subsidies of about $220 a month for impoverished adults — run out by the middle of the month, more homeless people are expected to line up.
“By the end of the week we may have to turn down people,” said David Broadway, a homeless outreach worker with Ascencia, adding that Ascencia will refer them to other shelters once the beds fill.
Ascencia usually refers the clients they can't serve to a shelter in Sylmar. Some homeless people also go to a Pasadena shelter on Lake Street when the Glendale shelter is at capacity, but that may not be a steady option now that the Pasadena shelter will only open this winter when there's a 40% chance of rain or the weather drops below 40 degrees due to funding shortages.
Claudia Majercik, who's been homeless off-and-on for the past three years, said she found out about the shelter on Monday night after she and her wife couldn't get two beds at a 10-bed shelter in Pasadena. That shelter only had room for one of them, but they wanted to be together.
Majercik has a 5-year-old son, who currently lives with his father, but she wants to find housing so she can have partial custody. She and her wife survive off of a combined income of $440 from General Relief, which isn't enough to pay for housing.
“If I had a place, I'd have [my son] four days out of the week,” said the 45-year-old. “All we need is a chance, a steady place to live and a roof over our heads.”