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City Expands Program for Homeless Services

At a special meeting with the Glendale Housing Authority on Tuesday, the City Council discussed funds being generated by the Homeless Initiative-Measure H and voted to accept $342,640 for the 2023-24 fiscal year.
The funding, which is combined with an additional $80,876 from previously allocated Measure H funds, will go toward three eligible homeless strategies approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The bulk of the money will be earmarked for expanding rapid rehousing programs in Glendale and also will be used for outreach and strengthening the system for housing navigation and location.
L.A. County voters approved Measure H in 2017, which created a quarter-cent sales tax to fund supportive services, housing, outreach and prevention for people experiencing homelessness. Since then, Glendale has received $1.6 million from the county’s Measure H funds out of the $10-11 million the city has generated through its annual sales tax.
Factoring in the new funding, Arsine Isayan, the city’s homeless programs manager, presented to Council her team’s recommendations — which city leaders approved — for how to disperse the remaining 1.2 million Measure H funds:

Home Again L.A. is a nonprofit homeless service agency created as a way to respond to the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, unhoused families with children.
  • $492,539 for rapid rehousing
  • $289,648 for homeless prevention services for individuals and families
  • $172,092 for housing navigation and location
  • $121,689 for administrative city use
  • $45,420 for coordinated outreach
    “We’re trying to be more intentional with the use of our funds,” Isayan said. “It’s not business as usual. We want to really focus on areas where there are gaps in our continuum and so we want to start with [rapid rehousing].”

    About 80% of the newly accepted funding is going toward rapid rehousing beds, which have dropped in availability by 41% since 2022. Isayan says this drop is a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding ending last September, which provided economic assistance across the country to those in need.
    “We don’t have this consistent stream of funding to keep operating a local rapid rehousing program and so, this is one area that we want to bring in a consistent stream of funding to make sure we always have beds,” Isayan said.
    She clarified that though she uses the phrase “rapid rehousing beds,” what she means is rental assistance, not placing people in shelters. Families or individuals in the rapid rehousing program find their own place and then a city agency provides rental assistance anywhere from three months to 36 months depending on someone’s need.
    The city selected Home Again L.A. and the Armenian Relief Society as its primary agencies to take the lead in revamping the rapid rehousing program in Glendale, allocating $235,899 to Home Again L.A. and $200,640 to the Armenian Relief Society. The remaining $56,000 will go to Door of Hope.
    In terms of shelter space in Glendale, there are 45 beds at Ascencia and 16 beds at the YWCA Glendale and Pasadena, as well as a small, varying numbers of beds through seasonal hotel/motel emergency shelter programs.
    Isayan pointed out that Ascencia’s services are available to anyone in the county and said about 70 to 80% of its clients are not from Glendale, though the city provides a number of grant funds to support the agency. The city is working with Ascencia to see how it can secure more beds specifically for the Glendale community, Isayan said.
    Councilmembers Elen Asatryan and Ardy Kassakhian emphasized the importance of supporting the Glendale residents experiencing homelessness.
    “The fact that we in Glendale are giving up our shelter spaces to individuals outside is unfair and unjust to those individuals in our community who have fallen on hard times,” Kassakhian said.
    While Kassakhian acknowledged the need to help other communities who are not as well off as Glendale, he called the ratio of what Glendale is receiving in Measure H funds from the county versus what the city is giving in annual sales tax “abysmal.”
    “There are so many things that are broken with the way that we are approaching the humanitarian crisis with the unhoused, not the least of which is the amount of money that Glendale is putting in in terms of sales tax through Measure H and what we’re receiving in return,” he added.
    Asatryan also suggested working more closely with the Glendale Police Department to create more effective outreach methods, whether that’s having people from the housing department or homeless services go with police to approach unhoused individuals in the community or other avenues.
    “It’s different when a police officer walks up to an unhoused person and hands them a card with a phone number that can provide them services versus having individuals who are from our housing department or homeless services [who can provide more extensive information] … being present in that moment.”

    First published in the January 13 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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