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Winter shelter gets early, critical look

County officials tell Homeless Coalition that incentives for services would get an increase.

April 19, 2008|By Jason Wells

CITY HALL — County officials told Glendale’s Homeless Coalition Thursday that financial incentives for emergency winter shelter operators would be increased in a bid to attract more applicants, a year after they scrambled to find a service provider for the program at the Burbank armory.

Providers of services for the homeless in Glendale last year declined to participate in the winter shelter program, which is funded through the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, citing past difficulties in dealing with red tape and securing expense reimbursements.

“It’s time to take a critical look at this program and its true costs,” Michael Arnold, chief operating officer for the authority, told the Homeless Coalition, which is composed of local nonprofit homeless service providers, churches and the city.

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As part of his announcement that the county would provide a two-month advance for startup capital and a bump in per-client reimbursement rates, Arnold also sought input on how to improve the program.

It was welcome news for officials in both cities, who last year were left with the possibility of there being no winter homeless shelter for the first time in more than 10 years amid ongoing construction at Glendale’s National Guard armory and community concerns complicating a response from Burbank over the use of its own armory.

The Burbank City Council eventually voted to support the shelter at its armory after the county brokered a last-minute deal with Los Angeles-based Union Rescue Mission to operate the program.

The council did so under pressure from county officials who said that without access to the armory, transients would be left out in the cold for the season.

Even then, the shelter opened two weeks past the start of the winter shelter season after the issue was pushed to Burbank and an attempt to build a coalition of providers in Glendale — which has historically hosted the shelter — fell through.

That county officials are starting a month early this year in their bid to court shelter operators with more attractive terms “is a much better scenario,” Burbank City Manager Mary Alvord said.

Officials in Glendale also welcomed the effort.

“It seems like they’re making a concerted effort to reach out to the communities that usually host the shelters,” said Jess Duran, assistant director of Glendale Community Development and Housing Department.

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