City Launches Pilot Program to Address Homeless Loitering, Crime at Pasadena Gold Line Stations

The 22-day trial effort at Metro's Allen Gold Line Station ends Monday

Published : Sunday, August 25, 2019 | 2:15 PM

[Updated] A pilot program designed to proactively address the loitering and crime associated with homeless people at Pasadena’s Metro Gold Line stations is wrapping up a 22-day trial on Monday. The results could lead to a larger ongoing program across Pasadena.

Pasadena Police Chief John Perez said last week that a new Homeless Project Committee has dedicated higher levels of collaborative City resources at the Metro’s Allen Gold Line Station in recent weeks.

“This concept utilizes a proactive approach in balancing the need for enforcement with the ability to provide outreach through social services,” the Chief said in his report. The emphasis, according to Perez, is on “offering and providing needed services.”

The collaboration involves the Pasadena Outreach Response Team (PORT), Union Station Outreach Services, Homeless Outreach Psychiatric Evaluation Team (HOPE), and the City Prosecutor’s office.

Formed in the spring of 2019 by City Manager Steve Mermell, and chaired by Perez, the Homeless Project Committee works to alleviate quality of life issues in Pasadena, directly related to homelessness, using a holistic approach, according to City spokeswoman Lisa Derderian.

“The emphasis will be on assisting with temporary/long-term housing,” she said, “providing immediate medical attention, locating rehabilitation facilities for addictions, dealing with mental health issues, and other social services-related issues.”

The concept entails collaborating with partners to field outreach social services teams that make daily visits to contact loiterers, according to Derderian.

During the project, a subject contacted with multiple warrants is taken to court where the City can request a court order placing them into treatment, or that they be given a restraining order from the station and its environs.

The project involves what Derderian called, “a proactive, multi-pronged approach starting with the outreach teams working in tandem to identify any social service needs of those loitering in the area, as opposed to the current effort, which makes enforcement the priority.”

Acting Deputy Chief Cheryl Moody is the Chair of the project and the pilot program is the committee’s deployment. Were it to be successful, the concept would be attempted at other Metro stations, according to Derderian.

“The goal,” said Perez, “is to reduce homelessness and chronic arrests of transients through social services.”

Pasadena police, according to the chief, will also be experimenting with “in-reach” services program targeting homeless people currently in the City jail.

Commander Arthur Chute oversees the HOPE Unit.

The strategy entails HOPE psychiatric evaluation units contacting habitual arrestees in jail who are homeless or have psychiatric issues in order to provide them with services they need before they are released back onto the streets.

“Unfortunately,” said Chute, “incarceration is part of the process. That’s what we’re trying to avoid by getting them services that they need, whether it be food, clothing, whatever it takes so that they’re not committing crimes to live.”

Union Station Homeless Services is thrilled to be working with the Homeless Project, said CEO Anne Miskey.

“We believe that the partnership, through this committee, will be able to have a positive, targeted approach to reaching out, supporting and housing people experiencing homelessness,” she told Pasadena Now.

It is less about new, or more services than about coordinating those on the frontline fight against homelessness, said Miskey.

Miskey stressed that relationships between different service providers have always been fruitful, it’s just that, with the committee, the partnership is intentional, the goals explicitly shared, the possibilities greater.

Partnering and collaboration make the disparate parts aware of each other’s resources and better equip them to point people in the direction of the help they need, she explained.

“Somebody may see someone experiencing homelessness and the first thing they’ll do is call the police,” Miskey noted. “Well, it may not be a police issue. The person isn’t committing a crime. They may, in fact, be in distress. So we want to make sure we’re working together to get information out to the general public that says, ‘Here is who you call if you see this. You can call Union Station, and if a crime is being committed, you call the police.’”

The collaboration, she said, will hopefully close “gaps” in the homeless service community through coordinated efforts.

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