With the Southland in a vise grip of below-normal temperatures, Glendale officials said they had to turn away up to a dozen homeless people a night from the regional winter shelter at the National Guard Armory last week.
Homeless people have been lining up more than three hours outside the armory on Colorado Boulevard for a chance at 80 beds that have been filling up nightly, but demand has been outstripping available space, officials reported at a Glendale Homeless Coalition meeting Tuesday.
“It rapidly went up to our limit,” said Natalie Profant Komuro, executive director of Ascencia, the homeless services nonprofit that runs the shelter.
At about the same time last year, the shelter had hit about two-thirds of its nightly capacity, but back then the city ran it under a stricter program that only accepted referrals from local nonprofits.
In the past, the armory housed a 150-bed regional come-one, come-all shelter funded by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. But last year, Glendale and Burbank funded their own 50-bed program in which clients were funneled into permanent housing.
Out of money this year to reprise the same program, the cities turned to Ascencia, which took over the shelter operation using funds provided by the county joint powers authority.
About a third of the homeless clients at the shelter so far this winter have been from Glendale or Burbank, officials reported.
Those who weren’t getting beds had been taken to a winter shelter in Sylmar until the vans that were being used broke down. Now, transients who don’t make it in time for a bed in Glendale get bus vouchers and are directed to Pasadena.
The Pasadena shelter, run by the Ecumenical Council Pasadena Area Congregations, was hit hard with increased demand last year when Glendale downsized its shelter.
Despite the high demand, city officials at the coalition meeting Tuesday said there have been no issues at the Adult Recreation Center or the nearby library, a change from years past. Police reported responding to 13 issues connected to the shelter since it opened.
“It’s heavier than last year, but lighter than previous years,” Sgt. John Gilkerson said.
Despite the higher demand, Profant Komuro said she doesn’t expect to run a larger shelter next year if Ascencia gets to coordinate one at the armory again.
A smaller shelter means greater opportunities for one-on-one care, shelter officials said.
“From what I’m hearing from staff and from clients, 80 is a good number,” Profant Komuro said.