Contact: Floridel Sotelo
PASADENA, CA – On a single night in January, approximately 80 volunteers and Union Station Homeless Services’ staff gathered for the scheduled Pasadena Homeless Count. Together, they facilitated the census by combing the streets of Pasadena to document the local homeless population. Not only did they count the number of individuals living on the streets, but also those who are sheltered in transitional housing and emergency shelters.
As in past years Union Station Homeless Services’ staff participated in the annual count for the City of Pasadena to gain a more in-depth account of the current condition of the City. They set out early in the morning to collect demographic and background information to gain a better understanding of who is living on the streets and why.
Staff from Union Station Homeless Services – including Ryan Izell, Director of Adult Services, and Sieglinde von Deffner, Coordinator for the San Gabriel Valley’s new Coordinated Entry System (CES) – joined Anne Lansing from The Pasadena Housing Department, representatives from New Directions for Veterans, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and local community advocates to conduct the count.
In small groups, they fanned out across Pasadena to count those who reside in places not meant for human habitation. Our staff members’ extensive training and previous work with those experiencing homelessness enabled them to find people in places not searched regularly by other volunteers. They were also assisted by a formerly homeless individual, now a peer advocate who took volunteers into East Pasadena to connect with hard-to-find individuals who may otherwise not have been counted.
“We were able to debunk a lot of myths and stereotypes regarding the homeless in Pasadena,” remarks von Deffner. The group found that the upper and lower Arroyo areas, commonly thought to have a higher homeless population, had a low occurrence of individuals living outdoors or on the streets. Since 2005, Pasadena has set in motion a 10-year plan to end homelessness in the City. The results from the 2015 count will be an assessment of how effectively the plan has worked.
Although previous results from the Pasadena Homeless Count show a steady decrease in the City’s homeless population from 2011 to 2014, changes in demographics – such as location of homeless communities – can provide useful information in securing much needed services to underserved areas.
By searching parks and other zones outside of residential areas and shelters, Union Station’s teams did more than just gather important data; they also provided immediate support and vital resources to the individuals they encountered.
“We found a group living in an abandoned home,” von Deffner recalls. “Our team linked them with resources for those experiencing long-term homelessness.” Among that group was a veteran who is now working with New Directions to find permanent housing. Union Station’s CES team has also begun to follow up with many of the individuals encountered during the count.
To learn more about the programs and services provided by Union Station Homeless Services, visit www.unionstationhs.org.