Cities must step up and help shelter

January 12, 2008

There is no good reason why in a region where Burbank and Glendale’s combined general funds total more than $1 billion that the two cities can’t come up with $49,000 to keep a winter homeless shelter from shutting its doors a couple of weeks early. The shelter — which struggled to open, but did thanks to outraged residents who demanded it — serves the area’s chronically homeless, who now may lose a vital place for shelter in early March.

The Union Rescue Mission, which operates the fledgling shelter at the Burbank armory, needs $49,000 to keep it open until its originally scheduled closing date, March 15. But if the funding gap isn’t filled — and soon — the people who use the shelter will be back on the cold, hard streets on the night of March 3, two weeks too soon.

The prospect has union rescue officials looking to the cities of Glendale and Burbank for help. And there’s no excuse not to give it.


One way or another, these cities need to pitch in and get that money to the rescue mission to allow the shelter to remain open for its intended period of time.

Enough of this game of “we’ll give this if they agree to give that.” Each city should just give half of the money and let the other follow suit. In fact, if you must play games with these people’s lives, why don’t you play “who can give the most first?”

The stakes are too high to do otherwise.

There’s a reason the winter shelter season lasts until March 15, and not March 3.

A lot can happen in a couple of weeks in March. A rainy spell or cold front could blanket the area, leaving those who live on the streets sick, freezing or dead. And it would be senseless. Both cities spend money where they don’t need to. Which is a better legacy: public art or compassion toward your fellow man? Which will really stand the test of time? Doing both would be great, but is a dip in a public pool really as important as people’s lives?

This undoubtedly should not be the burden of the cities. But that is where we’re at.

Burbank officials did the right thing and signed off on the opening of Burbank’s armory to the homeless, and after a slow start it has been serving them just fine.

And now both cities must see this through to its proper end.

All that said, in a time of budget cuts, possible recession and other fiscal woes, you can never be too sure if a government will come through, even in a moment where the promise of stepping up is so ripe to be fulfilled.

So we also implore the various social groups, businesses and many other organizations in town to think about pitching in, too. That amount of money is nothing for the fundraisers in these cities. If each household in the two cities gave a dollar, we’d have more than enough.

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