Pasadena's Official Homeless Count Drops by 20%

City Council will hear homeless count this year dropped to 542 homeless people as compared to 677 in 2018

Published : Friday, May 17, 2019 | 12:04 PM

Chart by Pasadena Now

Pasadena’s official homeless count is down 20 percent from last year’s figure, resulting from decreases in certain homeless subgroups over 2018’s numbers.

That’s one key takeaway from the Pasadena homeless count, which was conducted on the evening of Jan. 22 and morning of Jan. 23, by the City of Pasadena, in coordination with Urban Initiatives.

Housing Director Bill Huang will present that report to the City Council at its May 20 meeting.

Huang’s summary of the overall report is part of the Council’s agenda packet. It reveals that the 2019 count was 542 homeless people as compared to 677 in 2018.

It is important to remember that getting a fixed number on something as fluid as a population without fixed addresses is an imperfect science at best, the City staff report said.

“The Homeless Count provides a ‘snapshot’ that quantifies the size of the population experiencing at a given point in time, which may fluctuate on a daily basis over the course of the calendar year,” according to the summary.

There’s more good news.

Veterans comprise only 6 percent of the homeless population locally, a fact attributed in the summary to policies aimed at increasing housing opportunities at the federal, state, and local levels.

The number of families with children on the street also continued a downward trend that started in 2017. Some 14 percent fell into this count category.

“Promising strategies to end family homelessness continue to focus on rapid re-housing and employment support to regain stability and promote long-term self-sufficiency,” Huang’s summary said.

The 6 percent that are unaccompanied youths, between the ages of 18 to 24, is also characterized in the summary as a “positive low.”

Though the raw number of homeless in Pasadena is down, the number of those suffering chronic homelessness increased and accounts for approximately 50 percent of the total population counted.

Chronic homelessness is characterized by people with a disabling condition that have been homeless for more than a year.

The homeless in Pasadena are, more often than not, your former neighbors, according to the report. Some 58 percent were Pasadena residents before they lost their homes. Overall, just 5 percent of the total population became homeless outside of L.A. County before migrating to Pasadena.

Another foreboding sign is the aging nature of the homeless population. Three in 10 surveyed are aged 55 years or older. The demographic shift signals a baby boomer generation finding “significant impediments to aging in place,” the summary said.

Huang’s presentation suggests that homelessness is the result of policy and that policy can serve as remedy.

The report noted that, in 2018, City and County rapid rehousing and supportive housing programs moved 149 people, or 112 households, from the street and under a roof.

“It is critical,” the summary said, “that the City sustains and builds upon models that are working by prioritizing the movement of people experiencing homelessness on the streets and in shelter settings to permanent housing.”

This, of course, will require “investment,” the summary stated.

“Despite the City’s success in decreasing homelessness by 20 percent, the demand for housing far outpaces the current supply,” the summary concluded. “A root cause of homelessness is a lack of affordable housing.”



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