Ascencia homeless shelter

People wait in line for the shelter to open at Ascencia in Glendale for the Glendale Winter Shelter Program on Monday, December 2, 2013. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer / January 8, 2014)

While there are by comparison more fights and numerous police calls at Glendale’s emergency winter shelter this year, the issues are happening away from downtown retailers near the shelter’s former home: the Glendale National Guard Armory downtown.

“At least it’s away from the community,” said Alfred Hernandez, an outreach director for Ascencia, Glendale’s largest homeless services provider and operator of the shelter.

Last winter, there were numerous complaints from downtown retailers, people practicing Tai Chi in Central Park and Adult Recreation Center staff. This year, with the 90-day shelter on the outskirts of the city, there have only been two complaints from neighbors, according to a report released by Ascencia at a Wednesday Homeless Coalition meeting at City Hall.

One reason Glendale’s temporary winter shelter moved to an industrial area on Fernando Court this year — away from the armory, which hosted the shelter for most of the past 16 years — was to reduce impacts on the community.

Ascencia officials said they are already working on dealing with the handful of nuisance issues, some of which stemmed from the illegal dumping of couches across from the shelter’s new location in the 400 block of Fernando Court.

“It created a nice little party lounge,” said Ascencia Executive Director Natalie Profant-Komuro.

The city has since removed the couches and Ascencia officials are chipping away at other problems, including loitering and boisterous behavior at a nearby engineering firm and Dinah’s Fried Chicken on San Fernando Road. For the former, officials moved a waiting line for the 80-bed shelter away from the sidewalk, which appeased the engineering firm, and for the latter, outreach workers have been encouraging clients to stop hanging out near the restaurant, according to the report.

But there’s only so much nonprofit officials can do to curb loitering in the area.

Many homeless spend their days near the shelter to ensure a cot for the night and on top of that, there are few places where the homeless are welcome, according to the report.

Glendale Police Officer Tino Saloomen said at the meeting that the main complaint police have been getting about the shelter is public urination or defecation and he asked if Ascencia would set up a Port-A-Potty during the day when the shelter closes.

But Profant-Komuro said that would be the wrong move.

“They become a problem of their own,” she said. “People use them for everything except what they are intended for.”

Profant-Komuro said the restroom facilities at Ascencia’s intake center in the 1800 block of Tyburn Street, roughly a mile from the winter shelter, are available for clients during the day. Workers, she said, will tell that to clients to hopefully fix that problem.

Despite the hiccups, Ascencia officials point to initial success in moving people to more stable housing. While the shelter has a total of 80 beds, 70 are located on Fernando Court while 10 are reserved at Ascencia’s year-round shelter on Tyburn Street for people who are employed or developing a housing plan.

Of the 19 people that have stayed in the 10-bed shelter, seven have been moved to year-round shelter, one is waiting for acceptance into a permanent supportive housing program and two are expecting to move to transitional shelter, according to the Ascencia report.

Ascencia officials pointed to their successes at Tyburn as a sign that with access to services and case management, emergency winter shelters can be more than just for survival.

According to the Ascencia report, the shelter has:

- Served 248 people

- Of that, 20 were veterans and 95 were disabled

- For December, the occupancy rate was 92%

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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.


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