For the first time in several years, the Glendale emergency winter shelter may not be located at the National Guard Armory, a downtown site that has sparked controversy in the past, in large part because of its proximity to the Central Library and shopping centers.
Instead, the 80-bed shelter program is slated to be split into two sites near the city’s southern border with Los Angeles.
Both locations will be operated by Ascencia, Glendale’s largest homeless services provider.
“The armory is really not a good location for us,” said Natalie Profant Komuro, executive director of Ascencia, during a Homeless Coalition meeting at City Hall Thursday.
In addition to community issues, the armory often has black-out dates when it’s being used for training purposes, requiring shelter operators to find temporary housing for the homeless — often in local churches.
Ascencia is set to move into a new access center and shelter at 1851 Tyburn St. before Dec. 1, when the 90-day shelter is planned to open.
However, the nonprofit still has the lease for its current facility at 437 Fernando Court. The plan is to turn the former facility into an emergency winter shelter with 70 beds, while 10 other beds would be set up at the new building, which will also include 40 longer-term beds.
Ascencia took over as Glendale’s winter shelter operator last year after the cities of Burbank and Glendale ran out of money to operate their own 50-bed shelter, which was limited to local transients. In 2011, the two cities cobbled together $151,000 to run their restricted program.
For more than a decade before that, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, a joint powers agency that includes Los Angeles County and the city of Los Angeles, paid an operator to run a regional shelter with about 150 beds out of the armory on Colorado Boulevard.
During the winter shelter months, Glendale’s homeless population swelled, putting pressure on library and public safety resources, so city officials devised a plan in 2011 to run a much smaller program in the hopes of reducing the influx of homeless people.
Although the smaller program reduced the number of homeless people in the city during the winter months, city officials didn’t want to repeat it due to budget constraints.
Ascencia took the reins last year and operated an 80-bed regional shelter out of the armory with $151,000 from the Homeless Services Authority. Ascencia was granted roughly that same amount to operate the winter shelter again this year.
Profant Komuro said that because the authority had already given money to winter shelter operators, it’s unlikely that another will take over the armory.
Plans for the Fernando Court facility after the winter shelter program are still up in the air.