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County Board of Supervisors eyes new homeless shelter

OW Staff Writer | 2/24/2017, midnight
The Board of Supervisors voted this week to explore converting the National Guard armory in Sylmar to a homeless shelter. ...

The Board of Supervisors voted this week to explore converting the National Guard armory in Sylmar to a homeless shelter.

County Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Kathryn Barger recommended leasing the facility to provide year-round, 24-hour crisis housing in the area.

The Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority concluded last year that 2,279 more emergency shelter beds were needed countywide. Homeless advocates have been working to identify existing facilities that can be put to use quickly.

The state-owned Sylmar Armory cannot be sold for at least two years, but could be leased by the county.

There are no other shelters in the immediate area, although there are an estimated 220 homeless people living on streets in Sylmar, according to the supervisors’ motion and authority’s 2016 homeless count.

Rev. Sandra Richards of the First United Methodist Church of San Fernando offered the support of her congregation.

“We know that this shelter won’t be the be all and end all, but it will certainly go a long way toward helping us resolve this issue,” Richards told the board. “My congregation stands behind the county as you seek to do this.”

The motion did not include the number of beds that could be provided in the armory.

The Board of Supervisors directed staffers to calculate the cost of necessary repairs to the armory, talk to the National Guard about lease costs and report back on costs and potential funding sources in 45 days.

The board also extended the county’s overall winter shelter program for an additional month, to March 31, due to heavy rains and low temperatures. The extension includes funding for an additional 10 days of round-the-clock operations, as needed, during inclement weather.