Nearly three hundred enthusiastic Union Station Foundation supporters joined Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, City Manager Cynthia Kurtz, Councilmember Sid Tyler, and leaders of the agency on Wednesday, March 28 to preview the building and site that will house a new shelter exclusively for homeless families. Guests were treated to tours of the historic building at 825 E. Orange Grove Boulevard, built in 1926 for use as a funeral home. Representatives from numerous city departments and social service agencies joined Union Station donors, volunteers, board members, staff, clients and alumni to hear about Union Station’s ambitious plans to open a transitional shelter in Pasadena exclusively for families.
The increase in the number of homeless families in recent years has become an issue of great concern throughout Los Angeles County. Proportionally high statistics for homeless families are mirrored in urban areas across the country. When Union Station opened its facility on Raymond Avenue in 1989, the majority of its clientele were single, adult men. Today, 40% of the homeless seeking shelter at Union Station are women and families with children. “We are forced to turn away an average of four families everyday because there are no available beds,” said Marvin Gross, a resident of La Canada and Executive Director of Union Station. “It is difficult to encourage all those who need assistance to seek out the services we provide to help them better their lives. It is even more difficult to turn families away after they have taken the courageous step of coming to ask for help.”
Scheduled to open in 2002 following construction and renovation, Union Station’s new Family Center will include beds and living areas for approximately 45 people. Also provided on-site will be meals, social services and counseling, a playground and a learning center.
The Family Center will be different in nature than Union Station’s existing facility on Raymond Avenue in that all services provided on-site will be available only to the families who reside at the shelter. “All of the emergency services that Union Station currently provides to walk-in patrons, including the public meal program, community health screening and public showers, will continue at the Raymond location,” said Gross.
In response to the rising number of homeless families and the critical space shortage at Union Station’s current facilities, the Rebuilding Lives Capital Campaign was officially launched in the fall of 2000 to raise the funds necessary for expansion. The three goals of Union Station’s campaign are to open a stand-alone Family Center, to expand the current facility at 412 S. Raymond Avenue and to increase its endowment.
The Family Center will be owned and operated by Union Station Foundation, the San Gabriel Valley’s largest private agency serving the poor and homeless, providing more than 115,000 meals and nearly 21,000 nights of shelter per year. Supportive services include substance abuse recovery services, career development and job placement, community healthcare, case management services, 12-step meetings, legal assistance, transitional housing and special programs for homeless families. More than 70% of Union Station clients have found stable housing after their stay with the agency.
For further information about Union Station’s new Family Center, the Rebuilding Lives Campaign, or to make a personal contribution to the campaign fund, please call Union Station’s Development office at 626.683.8071.