Volunteers in Burbank and Glendale set out earlier this week to document the number of homeless in the two cities as part of a countywide effort to count the homeless population.
Counties receiving federal funding to combat homelessness are required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to keep an up-to-date population count. Volunteers across Los Angeles County spent the last week of January going to areas where the homeless are known to gather — including bus terminals and underground passes — to ask them a series of questions.
Ivet Samvelyan, community services manager for Glendale, said it gives cities a better idea of what services can be provided to the homeless and to see if the person is eligible for any benefits they're not utilizing.
"It's a confidential survey, and we ask a lot of special-needs questions such as if they are veterans, domestic violence survivors ... the reason as to why they don't have housing," she said.
Samvelyan said the count is also a way to get a better idea of how many people are currently living out on the streets as opposed to in a shelter.
Counts for Burbank and Glendale won't be available until sometime in March. However, Samvelyan said a preliminary look at the numbers put this year's number similar to last year's. In 2016, there were 240 people in Glendale who were counted as homeless, and in 2015, it was 208.
Although a preliminary number isn't available for Burbank, there were 167 people who were counted in 2016 — a small drop from the 168 who were counted in 2015, according to Drew Sugars, Burbank's public information officer.
"The count is always important," Sugars said. "It's certainly not all encompassing, but it gives us a snapshot of some of the numbers of what we have here."
Glendale typically receives $2.4 million a year in federal and state funding for its homeless programs, including shelter services and providing housing subsidies for the homeless, according to Samvelyan.
The city currently has two year-round shelters. The first is a 40-bed shelter run by Ascencia, a homeless services provider, and is open to families and individuals. The second is run by the Glendale YWCA and is a 10-bed shelter for domestic-violence victims.
Meanwhile, Burbank does not have a shelter, but does provide shuttle service to one in Sylmar during the winter. Sugars said Burbank has received roughly $285,000 this year in state and federal funding to pay for its homeless programs, which include emergency services and career training.
Andy Nguyen, email@example.com
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