LA Homeless Outreach Program Lands in Burbank

Devyn Shea
3 min readDec 10, 2017

What was supposed to be a brief update on the Hepatitius A breakout, turned into a full introduction and explanation of a sub-group combining the police department, fire department, mental health organizations, and the community they serve.

The Burbank mental Health Evaluation Team introduces their program to the Burbank Council. (Photo by: Devyn Shea)

While the Homeless Outreach Program has been aiding Los Angeles since May 2016, according to the LA Times, the group has just made it to Burbank. The Burbank division of The Homeless Outreach program, led by Maria Pandura, employee for the Burbank Mental Health Evaluation Team, made an official introduction at the Burbank City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept 26.

The team looks for community members in need of their help by going out into the community.

“We know what the visual is: grocery carts, maybe a lot of bags,” said Pandura.

Frequenting parking garages allows success in creating contact with the homeless community. The team seeks to help, while getting their name and area they hang out to continue connecting and do outreach with them, according to Pandura.

The Homeless Outreach Program is not on their own when trying to find persons in the most need of their help. They rely on what they call “referrals”, tips on the location of homeless individulas through policemen on duty, and even family members of the people in need of help.

Once BMHET connects with a person in need, they do a “whole person assessment” according to Pandura, consisting of diagnosing and treating medical conditions, mental conditions, and pinpointing any crisis or life-altering even that contributed to their homeless state.

Burbank police officer and fellow BMHET member Geoffrey Snowden, also present at the meeting, gave an example of how the team helped a 60-year-old man living in Foy Park referred to the program through a patrol officer. The man had been homeless for three years and suffered medical conditions and anxiety.

“We connected the client to mental health services and medical services and in the mean time Ascencia did their part in finding him the resources that he needed to get housing,” said Snowden.

Ascencia is a Glendale based organization that transitions homeless into housing. They aided this man in obtaining a California ID and other necessary paperwork.

“We made contact with him at the beginning of June, I spoke to Ascencia this morning and he’s gunna get his apartment next month,” said Snowden.

Snowden and Pandura are the only two that are heading up the outreach throughout Burbank, a big job for a small team.

“It’s an issue that takes a lot of effort on behalf of a lot of different people and connecting a lot of different organizations. We’ve made a lot of strides and efforts to use resources outside the city but you have to understand there’s only two of us. We are doing the best we can,” Pandura said.

“What you’re doing, we’ve never seen this before in Burbank,” said council member Jess Talamantes

Councilman Bob Frutas, former police chairman, put into perspective the need for this outreach team.

“There’s enough homeless people in California to fill Dodger Stadium, and 2/3 of them, 40,000, are in LA County,” said Frutas.