Homeless officials have eye on armory

Burbank facility may be used as winter shelter this year, but questions and concerns abound.

November 24, 2007|By Jason Wells

GLENDALE — County homeless officials have a tough sell waiting for them on Tuesday when they meet with Burbank officials to discuss using the National Guard Armory there for a temporary winter shelter this season.

Since the state announced on Oct. 29 that Glendale’s National Guard Armory on Colorado Street — the winter shelter’s location for the past 10 years — would be closed for maintenance and construction during the program’s season from Dec. 1 to March 15, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority officials have been scrambling to find a replacement site.

Despite a full-court press for an alternative site in Glendale, including asking churches to alternate as hosts on a monthly basis, county officials have been unable to find a spot.


Enter Burbank.

Its armory, located at 3800 Valhalla St. just south of Bob Hope Airport, is large enough to house about 150 transients every day between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. On Tuesday, county officials will lobby for its use.

But they will encounter a litany of concerns and questions over the shelter’s effect on city resources and the surrounding neighborhood, Burbank City Manager Mary Alvord said.

Pacific Park, next to the armory, might become a daily hangout for transients as they wait each day for the shelter to open in the evening — an unacceptable impact to the residential neighborhood behind the park, she said.

County homeless officials may also encounter a tinge of resentment and frustration from Burbank officials who have been thrust into an urgent situation with little time to prepare.

“I understand it may be just one season and that it’s so late in the game,” Alvord said. “We didn’t have an adequate amount of time to bring our nonprofits together.”

The county’s last-minute approach with Burbank comes after an exhaustive effort in Glendale that has failed to yield an alternative.

None of the city’s homeless service providers capable of operating a shelter have applied for the program, citing its strain on already thin resources.

And even with the Los Angeles-based Union Rescue Mission signed on as the shelter’s operator, response from churches large enough to house the program on a monthly, rotating basis has been tepid at best, with church officials pointing to its contrariety to in-house programs, prior holiday commitments for their facilities and an imposing December deadline.

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