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Shelter may head to Glendale

In coming weeks, city officials may discuss idea of having the winter service moved elsewhere.

March 28, 2009|By Jason Wells

GLENDALE — The search is on for a new winter homeless shelter site after a state official Wednesday said the National Guard Armory in Burbank, which has hosted the program for the past two years, would be unavailable for at least a year.

The Glendale Armory on Colorado Street has been offered up to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which administers the emergency winter shelter program, as an alternative site, Sgt. Major Lawrence Ellsworth said.

The confirmation came on the same day that homeless service providers met with Glendale and Burbank city officials to discuss the most recent winter shelter program, which has taken some political heat after a group of Burbank residents complained about its effect on the neighborhood.

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Residents who live near the Burbank armory on Valhalla Drive unloaded on Burbank city officials last week, accusing the shelter’s operators, the Union Rescue Mission of Los Angeles and EIMAGO Inc., of failing to follow through on promises to keep transient clients off the surrounding streets and confined to the bus-in, bus-out system.

With the issue now firmly injected into the April 14 Burbank City Council election campaign, the decision to temporarily take the armory off line appeared poised to at least cool the debate.

“I guess it makes it a little bit easier to have someone else make the decision for us,” said Burbank Mayor Dave Golonski, who is running for reelection.

Both military units that operate out of the Burbank armory are scheduled to be deployed to the Middle East this summer for roughly one year, Ellsworth said.

An armory, when activated, is unavailable to the public to make sure the site remains secure, he added.

Glendale was home to the regional county shelter for more than 10 years, until two years ago when its armory was closed for renovations and asbestos removal.

Burbank stepped in, but the patience of the surrounding neighborhood began to fray as the number of walk-ins — which operators had said would not be allowed — increased from an average 10 people a night to about 30, according to a Union Rescue Mission report.

Several Burbank and Glendale city officials said Wednesday that they were unaware of any final decision on the part of the state National Guard to close the Burbank Armory, but would still engage in discussions on a possible joint-use site in the future.

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