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County wants to turn Sylmar Armory into 24/7 homeless shelter

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It would be the only shelter in the area

Los Angeles Tops The Country In Homeless Population
Homeless men pack up their camp on January 24, 2017 in Los Angeles. According to a 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, LA has the highest number of homeless people in the nation with close to 13,000 living on the streets. 
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The little-used Sylmar Armory, owned by the California National Guard, could soon become the site of a new homeless shelter, as the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

Los Angeles County Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Kathryn Barger introduced a motion Tuesday that would allow the county to lease the little-used property yearly. The armory would be converted into a 24/7 shelter, with case management services and housing assistance onsite.

According to the motion, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has identified a need for more than 2,000 new shelter beds countywide. It’s not clear how many beds could be provided at the Sylmar shelter, but any number would be an improvement, given that the immediate area has none at all.

Though LAHSA estimates suggest that Sylmar itself has less than 250 unsheltered homeless residents, the motion suggests that the new facility would serve the broader San Fernando Valley region, where more than 5,600 people reside without shelter.

National Guard poster outside Sylmar Armory
The Sylmar Armory
Google Maps

As the Daily News notes, the armory currently serves as a temporary shelter, but opens only evenings during winter months. The supervisors’ proposal would allow the facility to remain open year-round and ensure that shelter users receive assistance finding permanent housing. The motion also calls for transportation service to and from the shelter.

Local officials may be prioritizing the creation of new shelter beds in light of the particularly harsh winter weather. According to data tracked by LAHSA, temporary shelters opened by the city and county have operated well above capacity on many nights during the winter months.

LAHSA and the County Chief Executive Office will add up the cost of opening the Sylmar shelter permanently and report back to the Board of Supervisors in 45 days.