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Homeless service calls spike in Glendale

Increase may be due to several reasons, but nobody's sure which ones.

May 24, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

There were 10 times as many transient-related calls for service during the most recent winter homeless shelter at the National Guard Armory on Colorado Boulevard compared to the year prior, records show.

Over the three-month span of the most recent winter shelter, Glendale police responded to 223 calls and observations — many for public drunkenness or trespassing — at five sites the department tracks, including the armory, Adult Recreation Center and neighboring businesses.

For the 2011-12 shelter season, there were just 27 transient-related calls from the same sites.

City officials and shelter operators say the sharp rise in calls could be because of more beds, laxer acceptance criteria for clients, an increased demand for housing due to the protracted recession, or better coordination with police.

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FOR THE RECORD: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that LAHSA reduced beds by 16% due to lack of funding during last winter’s emergency shelter season. Although the 16% drop was initially reported, the joint-powers authority was later able to pay for 240 more beds than originally projected. The county-wide shelter system ended offering less than 1% fewer beds during the 2012-13 shelter season.

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The 80-bed shelter at the Glendale National Guard Armory on Colorado Street this year had more beds and was open to all, while the 2011-12 shelter, funded by the cities of Glendale and Burbank, was limited to 50 homeless clients referred by local agencies.

But the number of service calls this year was also double the total number received in 2010-11, when there was an even bigger come-one come-all shelter.

That could be because of an increased need for housing as people continue to recover from the protracted recession while funding for both permanent and temporary housing continues to shrink nationwide, officials said.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, a joint powers authority that funds winter shelters across the county, ended up offering less than 1% fewer beds for the 2012-13 season compared to the year before.

"It's a sign of the times," said Glendale city spokesman Tom Lorenz. "This is not a Glendale issue. This is not a Burbank issue. This is a countywide issue."

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