An end to homelessness does not mean that Pasadenans will never experience a housing crisis again. It means designing a response system that ensures homelessness is a rare, brief, and non-recurring experience. This understanding acknowledges the complexities of housing instability and the need for a comprehensive approach to address the underlying causes and provide long-term solutions.
Making homelessness rare involves implementing policies, programs, and system coordination to prevent the loss of housing and divert people from entering the homelessness services system. This means proactively identifying people who are at risk of losing their homes and intervening early to provide them with the necessary support. Prevention strategies include short-term rental assistance, mediation and legal services, and access to affordable housing options.
Pasadena's Prevention Programs
The City was recently awarded $612,000 in competitive state funding for a family homelessness prevention program and contracted an additional $300,000 in state funding to two local nonprofits, Friends In Deed and Door of Hope, to provide short-term financial assistance and housing stabilization planning to single adults and families that are at risk of eviction or homelessness in Pasadena. The City also funds the Housing Rights Center to provide legal information and advice as well as limited-scope legal services to Pasadena residents at risk of homelessness.
Making homelessness brief requires a swift and efficient response when homelessness does occur. The Housing First approach is a cornerstone of this response, prioritizing the immediate placement of unhoused people into permanent housing. By providing people with a stable and secure home, the CoC acknowledges the crucial role that housing plays in addressing the underlying barriers that contribute to homelessness. Simultaneously, low-barrier shelters and street outreach teams are made accessible to those in need, ensuring that individuals have a safe and supportive environment while permanent housing is secured.
Pasadena's Permanent Housing Programs
Pasadena funds Union Station Homeless Services to lead the rapid rehousing (RRH) intervention for single adults and families and funds Volunteers of America Los Angeles to operate a RRH program for domestic violence survivors. In 2022, the City was awarded over $200,000 in competitive federal grant funds to expand Volunteers of America’s DV RRH project and over $500,000 in grant funding annually supports these programs. In order to reduce the average length of time people experience homelessness and increase the utilization of housing resources, the City funds a Housing Locator program at Union Station Homeless Services to identify available units for households who are enrolled in Pasadena-funded permanent housing programs. The Housing Department also hired a full-time Housing Liaison who provides similar services to support the lease-up of the City’s allocation of Emergency Housing Vouchers. Finally, the City administers a Homeless Incentives Program (HIP) that provides financial incentives to private landlords who rent available units to rental assistance voucher holders who are experiencing homelessness. Incentives include holding fees, move-in assistance, vacancy loss payments, and damage claims.
Pasadena's Emergency Shelter Programs
The City has two year-round congregate emergency shelters, one which serves single adults and transitional aged youth and a second which serves families with minor children. Additionally, Pasadena coordinates and funds a network of weather-activated winter programs which provide motel vouchers on cold or wet nights from December to March. In 2022, the Housing Department contracted nearly $700,000 among several local homeless service providers as well as the Public Health Department for motel vouchers and in 2023 the City Council committed $300,000 in General Fund to support weather-activated motel vouchers.
Pasadena's Street Outreach Teams
Pasadena has six city-funded dedicated local outreach teams that collectively work to cover 100% of the City's geographic area, with the primary goal of quickly identifying and engaging people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. The City currently funds Friends In Deed, Union Station Homeless Services, and Housing Works to provide outreach services focusing on people who are the hardest to engage and who often have the longest experiences of homelessness. Additionally, the City’s Public Health, Police, and Fire Departments are directly involved in providing outreach services. Multiple regional outreach teams also serve Pasadena, including a team that works with Huntington Hospital to target high utilizers of the ER, a multi-disciplinary team that provides street medicine services, and a team that operates on the L Line trains (formerly the Gold Line). The City commits an estimated $300,000 annually to support street outreach programs.
Finally, ensuring homelessness is non-recurring means providing comprehensive support and services tailored to the unique needs and strengths of each individual experiencing homelessness. This includes implementing supportive housing models that offer a combination of affordable housing and on-site services, such as mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, and life skills training. Ongoing case management is also provided to ensure individuals receive continued support in maintaining housing stability. Additionally, employment assistance programs are offered to help individuals secure stable incomes and regain self-sufficiency. By addressing the underlying challenges and providing holistic support, the Pasadena Continuum of Care aims to prevent a recurrence of homelessness and promote long-term housing stability.
Pasadena's Supportive Housing Programs
The City allocates approximately $3.5 million in grant funding annually to fund rental subsidies and intensive supportive services for individuals, families and young adults in Pasadena. Currently, the Housing Department directly funds eight different permanent supportive housing (PSH) programs. These programs include three site-based programs at specific buildings and five scattered-site programs that offer rental assistance to participants who lease apartments throughout the community. In addition to directly administering two rental assistance programs, the City is contracted with Union Station Homeless Services, Step Up on Second Street, Pacific Clinics, and Housing Works to operate PSH programs. Additionally, two new permanent housing units are in the pipeline and are expected to open in 2023. These new projects include Heritage Square South, which will provide 69 units for seniors aged 55 and older, and The Salvation Army’s HOPE Center, which will provide 65 units for people experiencing chronic homelessness, including 16 units for veterans.