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Homeless shelter returns to Glendale

Burbank's armory was closed to accommodate Middle East deployments.

June 06, 2009|By Melanie Hicken

GLENDALE — After a two-year absence from Glendale, the Los Angeles County winter homeless shelter is expected to officially return to the National Guard Armory near downtown, officials said.

Glendale’s armory on Colorado Street had hosted the program, which is administered and funded by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, for more than 10 years, but in 2007, it was moved to Burbank to allow for construction and building upgrades.

The move to Burbank got a relatively warm reception, but last year, residents living near the Burbank armory started to complain, sparking community meetings and discord on the Burbank City Council on what to do with the shelter. Then in March, state National Guard officials said the Burbank armory would be closed to shelter programs this winter to accommodate military deployments to the Middle East, prompting a renewed effort to bring the program back to the Glendale branch.

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“We are appreciative that [Glendale] can host it again,” said Burbank Mayor Gary Bric. “The important thing is, it doesn’t matter where you put it, as long as you provide the shelter during the winter season.”

Bric said he expected the shelter issue may come before the Burbank City Council again, “and we will address it when it does,” he said.

The shelter’s contractor, EIMAGO, a subsidiary of the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles, has indicated they intend to apply to operate the shelter, which runs from Dec. 1 through March 15, said Jess Duran, interim director of the Department of Community Development and Housing.

By state law, armories are mandated to be available for winter shelter programs, unless superseded by military purposes.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is expected to approve the application for the Glendale armory later this summer.

“Experience and capacity are something that we consider strongly in our review process,” said David Martel, contract manager for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

In anticipation of the likely move, Glendale housing officials are scheduled to bring the probability to the City Council and Housing Authority on Tuesday for consideration and feedback. Unlike earlier this year in Burbank, community complaints have been more minimal in Glendale, Duran said.

“The biggest impact it has is on the city’s own facilities, like the Adult Recreation Center and the libraries,” he said. “So we are able to try to work through those impacts. But in terms of the rest of the neighborhood, they have been pretty good about tolerating the winter shelter program and working with the city on any concerns.”

Last winter, the Burbank Armory shelter served 549 individuals and 27 families. Of those served, 37% identified themselves as from Los Angeles, including Hollywood and North Hollywood, 21% were from Glendale, 17% were from Burbank and 7% were from Pasadena, according to a city report.

In 2009, Glendale saw a slight increase in the reported homeless population, with 306 adults and children compared with 296 in 2007, according to a city report — a significant decrease from the 518 homeless adult and children reported in 1997.


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