Candles lit, names read of those whose lives ended on the street
Thirty-three names, said to be those of homeless who have died on the streets of Los Angeles County in the past year, were solemnly read Tuesday evening at All Saints Church’s annual Homeless Memorial Service.
In his homily, Reverend Mike Kinman noted the idea of remembering the names of those who died forgotten, saying, “When something is personal, what happens to one is felt by all. When something is personal, we know that alleviated suffering is not about solving a problem or curing a societal ill, but when something is personal, we know that our very salvation depends on restoring our fellow child of God.”
A number of members of Pasadena’s homeless-helping community participated in Tuesday evening’s service. Police Chief Phillip Sanchez and Councilmember Tyron Hampton attended.
John Brauer, Chief Executive Officer of Union Station Homeless Services, read the opening meditation, and Dorothy Edwards of Housing Works read The Beatitudes. Will Watts, of Public Counsel’s Homelessness Prevention Law Project, and Sieglinde Von Deffner of Union Station Homeless Services, read the 33 names.
Candles were lit for each name read.
Local religious figures outside of the All Saints community also participated in the multi-denominational service.
Rabbi Noam Raucher, of the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center, read “In the Rising of the Sun,” and Edina Lekovic and Tarek Shawky, of Masjid al-Taqwa, read from the Quran.
The service noted “1,400 unnamed residents in Los Angeles County who were buried this year,” though that figure was unconfirmed and no confirmed deaths of homeless on the streets of Pasadena could be independently verified for 2016.
Despite the rise in cases in Los Angeles County, homelessness in the City of Pasadena has decreased markedly over the last five years, say local experts.
“I think things are progressing well in terms of addressing the issue of homelessness in Pasadena,” said Ryan Izell, of Union Station Homeless Services. “We certainly wish that we could move at a faster pace,” he said, “but we have seen a pretty dramatic decrease starting in 2011 and moving through 2016.”
Izell reported there were 1,216 homeless persons on the street in Pasadena in 2011, and in January of 2016, there were 530, a decrease of 56 percent.
“I think a lot of that has had to do with a lot of new resources that have come to bear, and also the newer philosophical approaches that we and the City have been taking have also helped,” he said. Izell noted that the next homeless count will take place in January of 2017, and it will give the City and his own organization a chance to see if the decrease continues.
Bill Huang, Pasadena’s Director of Housing Services, also pointed to the City Council’s approval Monday evening for the Housing Department to seek additional funds from the state of California for homelessness prevention, rapid rehousing services, and outreach.