Housing Director Huang: “We shifted from ‘You come to us’ to “We come to you’; more difficult cases still remain on the street
Published : Monday, March 12, 2018 | 5:47 AM
A Pasadena City Department will report some success in their new approach to housing Pasadena’s homeless in a presentation tonight to the City Council.
Pasadena Housing Assistance Officer Anne Lansing will describe how almost two dozen homeless people have been placed in permanent housing since last July.
These efforts come against the backdrop of the 2017 eight percent uptick in Pasadena’s homeless count after five straight years of declines. (The results of the count taken in January, 2018 have not yet been released.)
“The old approach we used to have is (that) we would have what’s called an ‘intake center’ which we had for many years. So folks who needed homeless service or who are seeking homeless services would come to the intake center and it would be ‘How may we help you?’ from there.
“The problem is that [while] a lot of people did come in,” Huang continued, “but the ones who didn’t come in primarily were the ones who needed it the most. The most chronically homeless would not come in for services. So we switched our model.
As Huang explained, “We shifted from ‘You come to us’ to “We come to you.’ Outreach and engagement as opposed to intake. So that’s the big change that happened and that’s really significant. These are the ones who are out on the streets the most, we have to go to them. We cannot wait for them to come to us and so we made this shift and it’s been very effective.”
According to Lansing’s report, many people who are living on the streets and avoiding accessing existing services are burdened by perceived or real barriers.
Eleven percent struggle with substance use. Three percent are underage and may be fearful of authorities. Another 17 percent have a history of domestic violence.
In addition, according to the report, for many on the street, staying in shelters may mean disrupting important and close relationships they see as vital to surviving on the streets. Others may simply be unaware of the range of services and supports available
The report said that “street outreach involves moving outside the walls of an agency to engage people experiencing homelessness who may be disconnected and alienated from mainstream services and supports as well as services targeting homeless persons.”
The Housing department also manages a Pasadena Street Outreach Rapid Response Teams, who may be accessed directly from Union Station , but are also stationed at both Central and Hill Street Libraries.
As Huang explained, “We have the Central library and the Hill Street library because for years we have had homeless individuals using the library as a kind of home, they spend a lot of time in the library, but there was was no engagement with them.
“The library did the best they could,” Huang continued, “but they’re librarians. City Council agreed to fund the position, for outreach workers to be in the libraries, so that when people are there, there’s somebody who can engage them and then hopefully connect them to longer services.”
The department’s Emergency Response Team (ERT), which is funded through Los Angeles Housing Services Agency (LAHSA), covers the larger region, along with the Department of Mental Health ’s SB 82 Mobile Triage Team, which assists with Field-based triage and assessment to larger region
The Police Department/Health Department Hope Teams pair police officers to deal directly with street mental health cases, to provide both mental health counseling as well as law enforcement.
The end goal for all street outreach teams, according to the report, is to move chronically homeless individuals off the streets and into permanent housing.
Two field-based teams—Rapid Housing and Housing Navigation— cover Pasadena to “provide long-term support, build trust and provide supportive services. Each has a caseload of approximately 20 clients, and work in coordination with rapid response teams.
Union Station’s Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT), is a regional team funded through Measure H which pairs mental health, substance abuse, nursing and peer outreach workers. Union Station’s San Gabriel Valley Team is made up of Four field-based teams who cover a larger region, and are funded through LA County.
According to the report, 221 people have been reached through new street outreach efforts, and 23 formerlessly homeless people have been permanently housed since July. In addition, one in 10 people who received street outreach in Pasadena were housed over the last six months.
But the problem is, according to the report, “Without housing to place people in, outreach teams cannot end homelessness for people living on the streets.”