February End of Month Update

February has been a busy month for us at URM.  We hope you will take a moment to watch this video for exciting highlights on the events and challenges, including photos of our Hearts for Hope Fashion Show honoring Paris Hilton.

When you support us and share our message with others, you are helping to provide a better life for those who may otherwise be living on the streets of LA.  We cannot do what we do without you.


Foreclosed Homes Create Homelessness in California

Foreclosure Home Articles referenced Union Rescue Mission, stating that the flood of foreclosed homes is primarily leading families to seek emergency shelter.

The flood of homes to foreclosure has left hundreds of families in California homeless and in despair. Most of these homeless families were forced to seek emergency refuge over the winter. In fact, the number of families of foreclosed homes who were seeking emergency refuge in Los Angeles County has increased twice as much as last year.

Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority executive director Rebecca Isaacs pointed out that families bore the brunt of the economic crisis. She cited several factors that trigger homelessness, including increase in rent, eviction, unemployment, domestic violence, foreclosures and health tragedy.

On the other hand, Los Angeles County reported a 4 percent increase in the total number of individuals who sought shelter this winter. The Union Rescue Mission reported a 14 percent rise in individuals and 631 percent increase in families at its four affiliated winter shelters.

Reverend Andy Bales, chief executive officer of the mission, noted that foreclosures are affecting more families than individuals. He added that individuals who recently lost their jobs were more likely to stay with a family member or friend.

Click here to read entire article

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.

Oasis to hundreds closes doors Sunday – Burbank Leader.com

Christopher Cadelago of the Burbank Leader writes about the closing of the Burbank Winter shelter on Sunday.  The Union Rescue Mission and EIMAGO Inc have operated the winter shelter since Dec. 1, 2008.  A total of 473 men and women have been provided meals and a safe place to sleep since the winter shelter opened.

Union Rescue Mission’s CEO Andy Bales is concerned about what will happen to the individuals who sought shelter over the last few months and would love to see the shelter remain open.

But the chances of that happening are slim, said the Rev. Andy Bales, chief executive of the Los Angeles Union Rescue Mission, the shelter’s operator.

“Not only do we have to contend with the shrinking economy and growing unemployment, which I believe is actually closer to 20%, but now we’re in the process of listening to complaints from neighbors and doing our best to address them,” Bales said. “It’s something that needs to be done to keep us up and running.”

Bales said he met Friday with Councilman David Gordon, who shared with him some of the community’s concerns. Among them are problems with loitering, public urination and homeless people arriving at the shelter at all hours of the evening.

Another complaint lodged against the Union Rescue Mission and EIMAGO Inc., the nonprofit that takes care of day-to-day duties, is that volunteers have failed to keep criminals away, specifically sex offenders.

To tackle issues of loitering and walk-ins, Bales said, the Union Rescue Mission has spent about $40,000 on increased shuttle service to and from the facility in the last month.

Click Here to read the rest of the article.

Click here for more information on the current situation with the Burbank Winter Shelter.

Rescue mission seeks aid – The Burbank Leader

Tom Risen of The Burbank Leader writes about Union Rescue Mission’s appeal for increased winter shelter aid.

“We’ve been speaking out to public officials, but I don’t think anybody is quite ready to see the gravity of this,” said Andy Bales, chief executive of the Union Rescue Mission, which runs a number of shelters in the Greater Los Angeles area. “We need to take emergency steps for the number of people that are going to be coming our way because of foreclosures and job loss.

“This is alarming, and I’ve been working with the homeless for 23 years. It’s getting a little Depression-like.”

This is the second year URM has run the winter shelter in Burbank, which will close on March 15.  

Click here to read the article.

“Shelter looking for site” – Glendale News Press

Jason Wells of the Glendale News Press reports on Union Rescue Mission’s urgent need to find a temporary site for the Burbank Winter Shelter.  

Operators of the winter homeless shelter at the Burbank National Guard Armory are scrambling to find an alternate location capable of housing 50 of their clients during two planned closures of their current site.

The Salvation Army of Burbank has agreed to take in up to 50 homeless people during the planned closures Feb. 6 to 8, and again for the same dates in March, but that would cover only half of the average crowd that uses the emergency winter shelter every night, said Carrie Gatlin, vice president of government relations and special project for the Union Rescue Mission of Los Angeles, which oversees the operation.

Click here to read the article.

Los Angeles County shelters brim with families – LA Times

Jessica Garrison of the LA Times writes about the increase in families who are homeless this season.  Several individuals from Union Rescue Mission were interviewed.

The economic crisis and cold weather have created a larger than usual influx of families to shelters in Los Angeles County this year, according to shelter officials and other service providers.
On Wednesday, officials at the Union Rescue Mission, which runs the county’s cold-weather shelters, held an emergency meeting to figure out what to do when they run out of hotel vouchers for families, which could happen this month. The numbers, said Chief Executive Andy Bales, are sobering: The region’s winter shelters and the skid row mission have seen 86 families in the last three weeks.

By comparison, last year the agency took in 20 families at its emergency shelters over the entire cold weather season from Dec. 1 to March 15, with 15 to 20 more at its downtown mission. Two weeks ago, the mission downtown opened up its fifth floor to two-parent families and single fathers with children, something it has never had to do before. It may also convert its chapel to sleeping quarters.

Click here to read the article.

Shelters see significant rise in demand – KABC Channel 7 News

KABC news interviewed Union Rescue Mission’s CEO Andy Bales about the increase in individuals facing homelessness this year.

Officials at a winter shelter in Burbank say they have seen a 1,000 percent increase in demand since their doors opened on Dec. 1. They blame it all on a very troubled economy.

As they are dealing with increased demand in the valley, shelters in Downtown Los Angeles are retrofitting offices to accommodate more families.

“I’ve been doing this nearly 23 years and I’ve never seen anything close to this,” said Andy Bales, Union Rescue Mission.

Andy Bales runs the Union Rescue Mission on skid row in Los Angeles. He said homeless shelters like his are being inundated with young families.

“I believe that we’re going to have to take emergency steps to make sure that no family and no children spends time on the streets and suffers the devastation of homelessness,” said Bales.

Click here to see the video and read the rest of the story.

Shelters, missions overwhelmed by homeless demand – 89.3 KPCC

Southern California Public Radio interviewed Union Rescue Mission’s CEO Andy Bales regarding the increase in individuals who are homeless.

Los Angeles County’s homeless authority says on any given night 73,000 people are sleeping on the street. More than 10,000 are children or teens.

And it’s getting worse thanks to the slowing economy and big job losses. Union Rescue Mission President Andy Bales says the number of people visiting his shelters is up three fold over this time last year. He says it reminds him of the 1930s.

Andy Bales: “During the depression, the Union Rescue Mission provided 42 percent of the meals that were provided to the city of L.A. and somehow made it through. We’re trying to live up to heritage.”

Bales says it’s not easy. Demand for his nonprofit’s winter shelters is up sharply, while cash and food donations are shrinking.

Click here to read the article.