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Glendale homeless service officials bracing for change

City's Continuum of Care is preparing to apply for HUD funding.

January 18, 2014|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

Officials with homeless services in Glendale are preparing for a shakeup as they plan to switch their focus from supportive services and transitional programs to permanent housing.

The move comes as the city’s Continuum of Care, a coalition of the city and homeless services organizations such as Ascencia, prepare to apply next month for grant funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, which has placed a new priority on permanent housing.

The more permanent housing that applicants have, the more money they’ll likely receive. And as funding for the federal agency continually shrinks due to Congressional budget tightening, Glendale’s Continuum of Care wants to position itself to get as much money as possible despite the smaller pie.

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“This is a really strategic proposal,” said Natalie Profant-Komuro, executive director of Ascencia, at a Homeless Coalition meeting this month.

The proposed changes would convert two programs that have traditionally limited housing for the homeless from several months to two years — the Nancy Painter House for homeless women and children run by the Salvation Army and a scattered-site housing program for families administered by Ascencia — to permanent housing.

The change means people who stay at those facilities will not have a deadline to move out.

So, there may be fewer people who can get housed in an already limited affordable-housing market in Glendale.

On the flipside, however, giving people more time in these programs could keep them from returning to the streets at a later time, said Ophelia Basgal, HUD’s regional administrator for region 9, which covers California and several other states, during an interview Friday.

She added that permanent housing has proven to have a greater impact on homelessness.

“If they don’t move into permanent housing after they’ve moved through transitional housing, then they cycle back through,” she said.

By prioritizing funding for permanent housing, the federal agency is able to encourage local programs to change their housing models, Basgal said.

“People respond to what the grants are,” she said, adding that it’s been about a five-year “journey” for HUD as it’s developed this permanent-housing strategy.

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