South Pasadena’s City Council Wednesday night unveiled its draft plan to combat and prevent homelessness within its boundaries.

The council has to adopt the plan by the end of the month in order to qualify for additional grants under Measure H, a quarter-cent sales tax for Los Angeles County that was approved by voters back in March 2017. Measure H is specifically designed to prevent and combat homelessness countywide by way of funding mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, healthcare, education, job training, rental subsidies, emergency and affordable housing, transportation, general outreach, and prevention, among other services.

South Pasadena applied and received a $30,000 grant of Measure H funds that were used to prepare a homeless plan specifically targeting the immediate area, according to city staff reports.

The plan, being called the 2018-2021 Draft South Pasadena Plan to Prevent and Combat Homelessness, must be adopted June 30 by the council in order to qualify for further funding under Measure H. The draft was presented to the council Wednesday night.

“…approximately 57,794 persons within Los Angeles County experience homelessness on any given night in 2017 – an increase by 23 percent from2016,” according to the city’s staff report presented to the council Wednesday night and prepared by South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller and Sgt. Shannon Robledo.

“This trend is consistent with most of the cities throughout the county. The purpose of the City of South Pasadena’s … Plan to Prevent and Combat Homelessness is to set a roadmap for the city over the course of three years to further address the needs of its homeless residents and those who are at risk of homelessness, as well as to participate in regional solutions.”

The plan identifies six area that need to be addressed. They include reducing the extent and scope of homelessness within the city footprint, aligning city resources with county investments, reducing city costs that are not contributing to combating homelessness, improving quality of life for all residents and promoting “more livable cities for current residents and future generations.”

The plan also revealed, among other things, that there has been “a slight increase” in the city’s homeless population from 2016 to 2017.

“In 2017, the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority … identified 11 unsheltered people experiencing homelessness in the city – an increase from 9 persons in 2016,” according to the staff report prepared by Miller and Robledo. “In 2016, the homeless individuals identified lived in vans, tents, makeshift shelters, and out on the street. In 2017, most of the homeless individuals identified lived out on the street.”

In fact, the plan broke down the living arrangements this way: in 2016, two people were living on the street, three in vans, two in tents and two in makeshift shelters. While, in 2017, eight people were living on South Pasadena streets and three were living in cars. The plan does not address the shift away from shelters to the streets.

“Fortunately, South Pasadena has a relatively small homeless population, thanks in part to the high level of response and attention the City gives to this issue,” City Manager Stephanie Wolfe said this week in an email to The Review. “South Pasadena and our regional partners have strong programs in place to address housing, food insecurity, mental health, addiction treatment and other issues that are often the precursor to homelessness. This homeless plan reinforces the City’s commitment to finding solutions.

It was conducted in partnership with the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments and will allow us to meet grant requirements for Measure H funding. Measure H funding would allow us to continue to build on a successful foundation, including additional preventive measures and permanent housing solutions.”

Councilman Robert Joe echoed those comments, adding: 

“I believe that compassion and public safety is key to a balanced response to homelessness and the issues that surround it. We will work together to build even stronger relationships with our partners as we develop a comprehensive regional approach.”

The city hired a consultant, LeSar Development Consultants, to implement the plan, which in turn assisted the city in coordinating a series of stakeholder meetings and interdepartmental interviews over the course of six months, according to the staff report presented to the council Wednesday night.

The input sessions included clergy, homeless advocates, police, fire, and city officials as well as the homeless. The sessions identified six goals, including to continue current activities, establish links to crisis response systems, provide education and resources, expand access to work and employment programs, explore innovative housing solutions, and coordinate with regional partners on the plan’s implementation.

The city’s next step is to apply for Measure H grant funding scheduled to be released in August.

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the assistant editor for the San Marino Tribune and the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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