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Armory unavailable for shelter next year

Many thankful Burbank won’t host winter shelter again.

March 30, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

BURBANK — City officials and neighbors of the National Guard Armory, which for the past two winters has hosted a homeless shelter, breathed a collective sigh of relief Monday after learning that the armory would be unavailable for at least one year.

The National Guard plans to deploy both military units operating out of the Burbank armory to the Middle East this summer for about one year, Sgt. Major Lawrence Ellsworth said last week. Activated armories are unavailable to the public.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which administers the winter shelter program, has been offered the Glendale armory on Colorado Street as an alternative site, Ellsworth said.

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The news comes just one week after the Burbank City Council directed staff to resume negotiations between the National Guard, Airport Authority and Glendale concerning possible consolidation and relocation of the Burbank and Glendale National Guard armories, and two weeks after neighbors of the Burbank armory accused its operators of failing to keep transient clients out of surrounding neighborhoods.

“We welcome the fact that the homeless shelter will not be returning next year and, honestly, we hope that, considering our opposition, they will stay away forever,” said Armando Perez, a shelter neighbor who has spoken out against its operator, the Union Rescue Mission of Los Angeles and EIMAGO Inc. “We’re scared. We absolutely need to protect our children and the sanctity of our families. That can’t happen when parents don’t allow their children to go to the park because of what they experienced.”

Councilman David Gordon, who through opposing the 150-person-capacity refuge in the 3800 block of Valhalla Drive has shored up the support of neighbors, said the one-year respite will afford the city an opportunity to look more carefully at how it might aid the homeless, especially Burbank’s homeless, during inclement weather without adversely impacting any residential, park or school uses.

“First, we must clearly define what we mean by a ‘winter homeless shelter,’” he said. “It would seem that providing shelter from brief periods of inclement weather is fundamentally different than providing a full-service facility for the chronically homeless who may be struggling with addiction, mental illness, or who otherwise find themselves indigent.”

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