Yasuko

Japanese Homeless Woman
It wasn’t that long ago the word “homeless” conjured the image of a man – single, middle aged, perhaps a veteran. In recent years, we saw a tragic new face of homelessness as more and more women and children lost their homes. Now, yet another chapter of homelessness is emerging. Seniors have become the most recent victims of homelessness.

With rising medical costs, cuts in public subsidies and services, and shrinking retirement savings, a growing number of older people have come to Union Station for help, faced with the fear that their twilight years will be spent in utter disarray.

Such is the case with Yasuko. She may be a tiny woman, but in her 79 years she has packed a punch and achieved the success and admiration most only dream of. Born in Japan in 1932, she came to the United States in the 1960′s, completed a math degree at Cal State LA, and became a respected and successful business woman in Pasadena. Yasuko’s Bra & Lingerie Salon thrived for decades, and was frequented by debutantes and brides-to-be looking for the perfect undergarments.

Last year, Yasuko received email invitations to invest large sums of money in an enterprise that promised to expand her wealth. It seemed like an excellent opportunity to secure her upcoming retirement. Yasuko didn’t realize it was a scam — it wiped out her entire life savings. She lost her car, her 4-bedroom home, and her beloved business. Every bit of the dream she has worked so hard for was gone.

But Yasuko is not one to lose hope or give up. She turned to Union Station Homeless Services for help.

She moved into our Adult Center, and after just a few months, Yasuko was able to move into her own apartment at Centennial Place, a single room occupancy building in Pasadena where Union Station provides supportive services.

“Yasuko has led an interesting life,” says Centennial Place Director, Hillary Evans. “She’s very intelligent and I respect her very much.”

Although her reversal of fortune has been painful, Yasuko is grateful for the help she’s received. “I lost everything. But sometimes a small room is needed for spiritual growth. I accept that.”

Yasuko believes that wherever she is, it’s her duty to help others. She attends church daily, volunteers, and visits her ill neighbor everyday. Since Yasuko moved into Centennial Place, she has developed friendships and made a new life for herself. Her gentle spirit makes her a favorite at Centennial Place, and we are grateful to know her.

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