Armory unavailable for shelter next year

Christopher Cadelago of Burbank Leader writes that the National Guard Armory in Burbank, which has served as a Winter Shelter site for the homeless, will not not be available next winter season.  Burbank neighbors express enthusiasm that the shelter will not be returning.
March 30, 2009
Many thankful Burbank won’t host winter shelter again.

BURBANK — City officials and neighbors of the National Guard Armory, which for the past two winters has hosted a homeless shelter, breathed a collective sigh of relief Monday after learning that the armory would be unavailable for at least one year.

The National Guard plans to deploy both military units operating out of the Burbank armory to the Middle East this summer for about one year, Sgt. Major Lawrence Ellsworth said last week. Activated armories are unavailable to the public.

“We welcome the fact that the homeless shelter will not be returning next year and, honestly, we hope that, considering our opposition, they will stay away forever,” said Armando Perez, a shelter neighbor who has spoken out against its operator, the Union Rescue Mission of Los Angeles and EIMAGO Inc. “We’re scared. We absolutely need to protect our children and the sanctity of our families. That can’t happen when parents don’t allow their children to go to the park because of what they experienced.”

“First, we must clearly define what we mean by a ‘winter homeless shelter,’” he said. “It would seem that providing shelter from brief periods of inclement weather is fundamentally different than providing a full-service facility for the chronically homeless who may be struggling with addiction, mental illness, or who otherwise find themselves indigent.”

Carrie Gatlin, vice president of government relations and special projects for the Union Rescue Mission, on Tuesday will present a closeout report to the Burbank City Council, which gives details about the 549 transient clients served by the shelter from Dec. 1 to March 15.

The shelter — made up of 179 volunteers — placed 22 individuals and 10 families in transitional or permanent housing in 2008-09. Police responded to the facility 22 times, resulting in three arrests and two transports for mental health. Eight registered sex offenders made their way onto the facility and were later referred out, according to the report.

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