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Homeless Shelters Open as Temperatures Drop PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia Sun Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 05 December 2013 05:54

A spokeman for HSA said cots are being replaced with beds at many shelter locations.

The first winter cold front will blow through the Valley and Southland this week, driving down temperatures and driving those in need of shelter support to seek help.

"The homeless shelter program is a critical safety net for the homeless people in Los Angeles," said George McQuade of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), which has kicked off its Winter Shelter program and provides beds for the indigent throughout the county.

"This is an annual Los Angeles Homeless Services Program that starts during the coldest and wettest months of the year," according to LAHSA's Commission Chairman Larry Adamson. "This critical Winter Shelter Program is funded by the city of Los Angeles and county of Los Angeles and it is supported by the California National Guard, which provides shelter sites at several armories."

One of those is at the National Guard Armory in Sylmar, which opens next Saturday, Dec. 14, and remains open through March 15, 2014. The shelter at the Armory, located at 12860 Arroyo Street, opens every night at 6 p.m. and closes at 7 a.m. The Bridge to Home agency manages the facility, and is also in charge of the Santa Clarita shelter.

LAHSA also offers free transportation to the different facilities as part of the Winter Shelter Program. Pick-up locations for the Sylmar shelter are at Sunland- Tujunga Park at 6:15 p.m.; at Tujunga Canyon at 6:30 p.m.; and at the corner of Van Nuys Boulevard and Erwin Street in Van Nuys at 7:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.

In total, said McQuade, 11 agencies provide shelters in 15 communities throughout the county, including in three armories.

First Come, First Served

Admission to the shelters is on a first-come, first-served basis. Only single people and couples without small children are allowed. Families with small children receive referrals to other temporary housing.

Once at a shelter, the homeless can receive a hot dinner, sack lunch, showers, blankets and towels, soap, shampoo and hygiene supplies. They also have access to case managers for resource referrals.

And this year, for the first time, the case managers are able to enroll them in the new Medi-Cal program under ObamaCare.

The state's publicly funded health program for low-income and disabled residents, which currently provides care to more than eight million Californians, will expand under ObamaCare. Starting in January, people with higher incomes and childless adults are eligible to get this coverage.

A Growing Problem

According to McQuade, the latest homeless count in Los Angeles County, conducted in November, revealed that 57,737 people lack a roof over their head on any given night. About 43,000 of those men, women and children "have no options, nowhere to go," he said. "The shelters offer people temporary housing and help to get back on their feet."

But the shelters can only cover a small fraction of the need.

LAHSA's Winter Shelter Program, which has been operating since 1993, and is a collaboration of the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles, can only provide 1,491 beds on any given night. There are currently 661 beds at the eight facilities that opened this week, with an additional 830 more when all facilities open by Dec. 14.

Last year 7,771 homeless individuals received shelter and services, program officials said.

Contrary to what others may believe, these are not necessarily the chronically homeless, Mc- Quade said.

"It can happen to anyone. I lost my home in the earthquake," the West Hills resident recalled. "These are regular folks too. It could be anybody."

Information on locations and pick-up sites for shelters is available by calling a hotline at (800) 548-6047, or by visiting the authority's website at www.lahsa.org.

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