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Group Seeks City Funds to Buy Shelter : Homelessness: The City Council will decide whether to give the Salvation Army $200,000 toward the purchase of a large house to shelter families.


The Salvation Army in Glendale is seeking city funds to help establish the first shelter for the homeless in Glendale.

But it won't be a typical shelter. It will be a grand old Victorian farmhouse that was to have been converted into a quaint bed-and-breakfast inn.

The Salvation Army entered escrow in March to purchase the two-story, 94-year-old house at 609 Chester St. The sale is to be completed June 26.

On Tuesday, city officials will recommend that the City Council allocate $200,000 of its share of federal block grant funds toward the purchase price, which has not been disclosed.

The house was to have become the city's first bed-and-breakfast inn under an ordinance adopted last year. Owners Martha Skinner and her husband, Richard Sanchez, just completed renovating the house, which had fallen into severe disrepair before they purchased it 1 1/2 years ago. However, they said they are being forced to sell because of a job relocation.

Lt. Ken Hodder of the Salvation Army said the inn will provide short-term housing for displaced families while they are assisted in their search for new housing, preferably in Glendale.

The group's goal is to "provide assistance while preserving human dignity," Hodder said, "and that includes accommodations as comfortable and conducive to family living as possible."

He declined to reveal further details of the proposal, which he said will be announced at the charity's annual luncheon for business and community leaders Monday.

The renovated, 3,100-square-foot-house has eight bedrooms and four baths. Newly painted in gray and white, the wood-sided, Victorian-style structure features a round corner turret, an expansive porch and wide stairways leading to second-floor balconies.

Built in 1896, it once was the main residence of a 232-acre farm where black walnut trees were grown. The neighborhood, on a narrow street abutting the Ventura Freeway just east of San Fernando Road, is now a mixture of aged bungalows and new apartment buildings.

Hodder said the Glendale group provided food, shelter, clothing, transportation, medical and other assistance to 13,563 people last year. About 70% of those helped are families, he said, while the remaining 30% are single men and women.

Hodder said almost all the people helped by his organization are from Glendale, Montrose and La Crescenta, often families who have been forced out of their homes or apartments because of financial difficulties.

"Very few homeless people are coming to Glendale because they hear it's a good place to stay," Hodder said. "It is the people who are living here now that are seeking the assistance of the Salvation Army."

Typically, families are given temporary shelter--usually four nights--in local hotels or motels through rent vouchers provided by the city.

Madalyn Blake, city director of community development and housing, said the Salvation Army is the largest provider of social services in Glendale. She said the $200,000 toward purchase of the inn would come from the city's annual allotment of $1.7 million in federal community development funds.

The city awarded the Salvation Army $38,000 in community development funds this year, triple last year's allocation of $12,500, Hodder said. However, the majority of the organization's funds are from private donations.

Skinner and Sanchez began the effort to permit bed-and-breakfast inns more than a year ago. The city's rules previously permitted only one guest per bedroom in boardinghouses. The new law permits couples and families to stay in up to five bedrooms in a home, provided the total number of occupants do not exceed fire safety regulations.

The owners also obtained a city variance last year to operate an inn without complying with a requirement to provide covered parking. The property has sufficient parking, officials said; it just is not covered. Temporary guests will be permitted to live in only five of the bedrooms.

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