Pasadena’s Homeless Population Growing at 3 Times the Regional Rate

Seniors Hit Especially Hard

Published : Tuesday, August 7, 2018 | 5:21 AM

Pasadena’s homeless population spiked by 18 percent this year, as Los Angeles County as a whole saw its first decline in homelessness in four years, according to data recently released by L.A. Homeless Services Authority.

The San Gabriel Valley also bucked the County trend to a lesser extent, with a 5 percent increase in homeless population, based on this year’s homeless counts. The Countywide homeless population dropped by 4 percent, to 52,765 people.

Pasadena Housing Department Director Bill Huang says he suspects trains and rising housing costs are two primary reasons for the local increase in homeless population.

“Compared to the rest of the San Gabriel Valley, we have a more extensive public transportation, particularly the light rail line. The light rail line connects almost all of the concentrated areas in L.A. County that have high homeless populations,” he said.

“We definitely know that folks are mobile here and they know how to move around. One of the easiest ways to move around is through the light rail system,” Huang said.

“It’s [not] news that there’s a significant homeless population on the light rail system. MTA now has some dedicated homeless outreach teams that work specifically on the light rail system, which is fantastic,” he added. “That’s one factor.”

And then there’s the issue of housing prices.

“I think what we saw here was a big increase in just the economic homeless; folks who just got priced out who couldn’t afford to stay in housing,” Huang said.

“So we’ve been working hard on housing chronically homeless individuals,” he said. “We are having success there, but … we may house three individuals, but five more fall into homelessness.”

The trend is especially pronounced among senior citizens.

Despite a decreasing overall homeless population, the proportion of senior citizens living on the streets in L.A. County went up 22 percent, according to LAHSA data. Pasadena’s population of homeless seniors climbed by 60 percent, and the San Gabriel Valley saw a jump of 116 percent, from 188 to 406 people.

As Baby Boomers reach their golden years, an increasing number in the Pasadena are finding it impossible to make ends meet.

“There’s a lot of folks, they basically outlive their resources, and what income they get in is not sufficient to pay for housing,” Huang said. “So they end up homeless. And this is just the beginning. There’s thousands and thousands more in similar situations.”

Pasadena’s homeless count tallied “older persons” as those 50 or above. The rest of the county counted people 62 or older.

While the bulk of the County falls under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, Pasadena, Glendale and Long Beach operate their homeless counts independently, as they receive federal funding to support them individually, Fuller Theological Seminary Assistant Psychology Professor and Office of Urban Initiative’s Director Sofia Herrera explained.

“The City of Pasadena Homeless Count has its own continuum of care system and it is expected to conduct a count as a direct recipient of funds for services from the federal government,” she said.

According to LAHSA, the program and its structure date back to 2001, when Congress directed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to improve data collection regarding homelessness.