Friday, July 24, 2009

983 Too Many

If you live in Pasadena you probably already know about Union Station Homeless Services. Here's a branch of Union Station I happened on the other day: the Euclid Villa Transitional Apartments. I didn't know what it was at the time. I thought it was a pretty house, and I could tell from the signs on the porch that it wasn't a private home. I took a picture, came home and looked up the address.

According to the website, families living there "pay 30% of their income for rent, while gaining the skills, stability and confidence they need to secure permanent housing."

You can't learn everything from a website, and homelessness is a complicated issue. But that sounds sane to me. A homeless person who ends up at Pasadena's Union Station is lucky, if you can call that lucky.

In searching for other organizations in Pasadena that serve the homeless, I found the Ecumenical Council's Friends In Deed. Their site says, "The official homeless count of 2008 in Pasadena found that 983 homeless adults and children live on the streets on a given day." This tells me the homeless percentage of our population is low compared with Los Angeles, for example. But one homeless kid is one too many.

It's our town. These are our neighbors. What other organizations do you know of that serve Pasadena's homeless?

21 comments:

Cafe Pasadena said...

I have a friend who helps out in the kitchen at Union Station.

Another big organization that helps the needy & homeless in Pasadena is the Salvation Army on Union St.

Dina said...

Sounds good, the helping. But not the high number.
Good luck to all the helpers and the helped.

Eamon said...

The number of homeless everywhere shame us all. It's fine setting up orgnaisations like this, but it would be better if we took the issue of poverty more seriously at state level. Although the UK has work to do on this, it seems to me that the US is a particularly bad role model when it comes to addressing issues of poverty and inequality in society. Although hopefully Obama can change that a little by getting a health-care bill through...

(Apols for the political intervention on your post!).

Eamon

altadenahiker said...

I've seen the scattered house such as this here and there; I hear the waiting list is very long.

Was it Reagan who took care of the problem by saying homelessness is a choice? That was after his catsup is a vegetable proclamation.

SP said...

Miss Burchard your posts and your photos are really attracting to me (I love to discover the american life like that). I will follow you blog. Bye, Italo.

Petrea said...

This morning I received this email from Roberta Martinez, E.D. of Latino Heritage in Pasadena and author of the recently-released book, "Latinos in Pasadena":
"PPD has a special section that is dedicated to homeless and those dealing with mental health issues. I believe it is HOPE. The PUSD has a program that offers a variety of support to students that are homeless. And then there are the countless churches/temples that help those who are in a really rough spot."

Thanks, Cafe. Good to know.

Dina, our number is actually less than one percent of our city's population. Other major cities have a higher rate of homelessness. But as I said, one is too many.

Eamon, your opinions are welcome, whether I agree with you or not. (This time I happen to agree.)

Karin, this is a memory, not a statistic: When I was a kid, before the 80's, I remember the occasional "tramp" or "bum," as we called them. Guys who rode the rails and camped along the train tracks in my home town. I never saw beggars, ever.
In 1978 I moved to Chicago. Didn't see beggars there, either, until after Reagan became president. He took office in 1981, and cut the budgets of lots of social welfare programs, turning people onto the streets. It has been since then, in my memory, that it has become common to see people living on the streets in America. If you were born before 1970 you may be able to recall a time when homelessness was not the norm.

Grazie, and welcome, Italo.

Margaret said...

I didn't know about this. Thanks.

HearkenCreative said...

One of the most impressive -- in my mind -- organizations in Pasadena is Door of Hope on Los Robles just south of Orange Grove. Homelessness affects families in profound and unique ways, and Door of Hope only takes in families.

I interned there for a summer in 1988, and we had a total of 5 families come through the doors (it's a small facility). Only two of the five families made it through the program and into job placement and their own apartment; the other three were back on the street due to the parents' drug addiction or violence. Let me tell you, I still cry for those kids that were back on the street because their parents couldn't clean up.

It's an extremely complex problem, and I would encourage anyone who thinks it's black and white to actually go and volunteer at a shelter for a while (always considering safety, of course). I have met some of the most interesting, well-spoken people in homeless shelters. I have also met people who insist on not taking responsibility for their actions. Homelessness, especially in this economic climate, affects a wide and diverse cross-section of American society. And the problem will not be "solved" with any one solution: it needs to be national, local, government, non-profit, churches/synagogues, and individuals all pitching in. And I certainly don't profess to know the answers, or even fully understand the breadth of the "homeless problem," but that won't stop me from hoping for a solution.

Off my little soapbox now. Thanks, Petrea, for showing us a bit of a little-seen side of Pasadena!

elizabeth said...

I can attest that the Friends In Deed house is very helpful- I used to live just around the corner. There are always a good group of folks there in the morning waiting for it to open. It strikes me as a very hopeful place.

On Sundays, they have a rocking church service too, and the singing carries out into the air.

JM said...

Lovely building! And very interesting information.

altadenahiker said...

I think it was the Reagan administration that made severe cut backs in funding and services available to the mentally ill, resulting in a dramatic increase in homelessness.

Other, or additional, pressures are at work these days.

J. said...

Homelessness should be criminalized—but not the homeless.

Cafe Pasadena said...

The problem has gotten even worse under the presidents following Reagan. Apparently, the political mood hasn't been favorable to go back to the pre-80's policy.

Petrea said...

Thanks for your contributions, everyone. Loren, some excellent points. It is soooo, complicated and crosses a lot of lines (race, education, etc.)

Karin, Reagan's administration cut other social services funding as well, although the cuts for the mentally ill are the ones most people remember. And as Cafe says, no one since then has found a good way to dig ourselves out. I guess we can blame Reagan all we want, but it's not going to help.

I've got a lot of faith in our current president. He may be able to begin a reversal of the trend; hopefully those coming after him can continue in that vein.

Bec said...

I'm on the board of Elizabeth House where pregnant, homeless women live. It's always astounded me how many calls we get each month from women who are on the streets and pregnant (and often have small children). Many of the other places I thought of came up in the comments already.

pasadenapio said...

The City of Pasadena does not provide direct homeless services, but does fund community-based organizations through CDBG funds, Human Service Endowment Fund, and other sources.

There's also the 10-year plan for ending homelessness in Pasadena.

Petrea said...

Bec, it sounds like you're deeply involved and I commend you. I think that's more than most of us can say.

Ann, thanks. I looked at the plan and it looks like a good resource. It seems to have been instituted in 2004. I hope they're still at it, though they haven't posted minutes since early 2005. It's not easy work.

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

A (my friend who sells tamales) is on the verge of homelessness. She's needs $150 to pay her rent---stat. I'm hoping my church can come through for her (they've done so for years). I hate the chronic nature of the problem---no decent (living wage) job, not enough money, threat of homelessness.

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

BTW, A grew up in Pasadena, but couldn't afford to stay here and now lives in Highland Park. She'd rather live here, but it is more expensive.

Petrea said...

Yes, chronic, as you say, WCGB. It keeps coming up for her and you keep trying to help. Can she take advantage of any of the services mentioned here or does she have to be even more destitute before that can happen? Are there other public institutions she can turn to?

Cafe Pasadena said...

Bec's Elizabeth House in Pasadena does some great work. It's a valuable resource of love/care for local women in a stressful period of their lives. Thanks, Bec! (I think she's still up in Oregon)