Reaching Out to the Homeless: Pasadena’s Network of Programs Making a Difference

Pasadena Star-News

By Mary Frances Gurton

Despite a network of programs and facilities in place to serve the city’s homeless-and a plan to end the problem within 10 years-about 1,200 adults and children sleep on the streets on a given night.

But city officials say that a network is at least in place that attempts to deal with the issue.

“I’m proud of the work we do with the homeless in Pasadena,” said Mayor Bill Bogaard, a resident since 1970. “The city has taken a position of willingness and leadership that goes beyond many others.”

To complete the city’s 10-Year Strategy Plan to End Homelessness, which was adopted by the City Council in July 2005, a counting process is undertaken yearly to provide data concerning the population.

“This [process] will help enable the city of Pasadena to formulate findings and make recommendations to substantially reduce the incidence of homelessness within the city,” said Joseph Colletti, director of the Institute for Urban Research and Development, which oversees the program.

Although the problem lingers, the reported homeless population decreased over the past year from 1,217 to 1,165, according to findings in the City of Pasadena 2006 Homeless Count report.

A two-point plan that starts with creating a social safety net aimed at keeping “at-risk” families off the streets, combined with a program to bring services to those who are “chronically” homeless, keeps the effort realistic, Colletti said.

“To expect the population to decrease by 50 percent in five years is achievable,” said Colletti.

A trio of mental health care, physical health care and substance-abuse treatment would be necessary, he said.

Data from the counting report is submitted to the federal government to attain fundraising for street outreach, case management, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing and other programs, he said.

Currently, programs are offered by a variety of outlets including Casa Maria, for women with children, and the Ecumenical Council of Churches, which is creating a transitional program.

For example, next week, the Union Station Foundation’s Family Center, in collaboration with the Pasadena Unified School District, is hosting a “Summer Fun Festival.”

The celebration allows homeless parents with children to get together for fun and food before the school year begins.

“There are a lot of homeless services in the city,” said Kandy Nunn of the organization. “We just want to make them more comfortable and help as much as possible.”

More than 100 children are expected to attend the event.

“This is the type of assistance needed to bring homeless people back into our workforce, schools, religious institutions and other community institutions,” said Colletti. “The [reports] make one thing very clear-the streets are not a home.”

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