The Burbank Safe Storage and Help Center (SAFE) will soon provide personal storage and other useful services to the Burbank homeless community.
The facility aligns with strategy one of the City’s three-year Homelessness Plan for 2018-2021, which includes seven methods to combat homelessness in Burbank. This first approach on the list is devoted to “Developing Storage Facilities and Transportation” where homeless individuals can keep their personal belongings.
The SAFE will provide a location for homeless adults to store their possessions while offering case management aid and accepting referral services from local partners such as the Burbank Temporary Aid Center and Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. As many as 60 people can use a container to store their possessions at the SAFE, and each container can carry the weight of 60 gallons worth of items. These program features carry the overarching mission of shrinking the most recent count of 291 Burbank homeless individuals, which the City predicts may have grown since this tally.
Salvation Army Social Services Manager Rob Baskerville is overseeing the program while working with two other Salvation Army colleagues to manage the location. In the future, Baskerville says, the SAFE will expand to offer a comprehensive list of services to members of the homeless community. He hopes to collaborate with the City to possibly implement a mobile shower unit, administer laundry vouchers, and distribute food, along with other useful resources, to visitors. Furthermore, Baskerville plans on communicating with local entities like Streetplus, the Burbank Community YMCA, and the Burbank Public Library to grow future collaborations that will further prevent and limit homelessness in Burbank.
“When [people] come here, not only are they just going to have a place where they can store something, but where they can get other resources and get plugged in eventually down the line,” Baskerville said. “So eventually we’re looking at a full-scale, all-around program. But in the very beginning, our first focus is, we need to get the storage up.”
An open house was hosted from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 27, to introduce the facility to City staff and local dignitaries. Open house attendees were able to tour the building, located at 401 S. Front St., and learn more through conversations with Baskerville about the SAFE program.
“It was really awesome,” Baskerville said of the open house event. “Almost every single person I talked to said, ‘I am so glad that this thing is finally going to get going,’… So people were excited. We’re excited to be back in Burbank, and we’re excited to be working alongside Streetplus and the City of Burbank.”
While the SAFE location was previously leased to a private contractor, the lot where the facility now stands was repurposed by the City through asphalt resurfacing, new lighting, a security system, painting, fencing, landscaping, and purchasing office and storage containers. This construction process took about four months to complete and cost a total of $251,000. $118,000 was provided through Community Development Block Grant funds, and $133,000 came from Los Angeles County Measure H funds.
The location is planned to officially begin operating on Friday, Oct. 1, and will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Contributors to the SAFE optimistically predict that this location can provide a substantial opportunity to heal the homeless community throughout the City.
“The homeless people, they have been rejected,” Baskerville said. “And so they’re the first to sit there and say, ‘The city doesn’t care about us,’ and that’s where we come alongside and say, ‘No, you’re wrong. The city does really care about you’…I think that’s where we’re going to come in and we can be able to be that bridge and be that extended olive branch to them to say,…’ We’re working with the city. They want to work with you, let us help bring this all together so we can see what we can do to help those folks that are struggling on the street right now.’”