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Council Takes First Step to Provide More Motel Vouchers for Homeless

Published on Monday, December 6, 2021 | 6:29 pm
 

The city council on Monday took the first step in providing additional funds for motel vouchers for unsheltered residents.

The council voted to amend a contract with Friends in Deed for additional funding for motel-based shelter services including weather activated motel vouchers during the upcoming winter season to increase the total contract value by $108,000 for a not to-exceed amount of $158,000.

The additional funds will support the provision of weather-activated motel-based shelter services during the upcoming winter season.

A contract for an amendment to a contract with Union Station will come before the council next month.

For the second consecutive year, Friends In Deed will not operate the Bad Weather Shelter this year due to challenges with securing a site, in addition to concerns about safe operations during the pandemic.

According to the most recent homeless count there were a total of 527 people experiencing homelessness in Pasadena, which remains relatively unchanged from 2019 when 542 people unsheltered people were counted.

The Friends in Deed shelter did not open last year due to pandemic issues, including the ability to effectively quarantine shelter workers and unsheltered people dealing with COVID-19.

Starting in January, when the temperature falls below 40 degrees or when there is more than a 40% percent chance of rain, the unsheltered can go to the church where supplies will be handed out, including ponchos, blankets, food and other supplies, from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursdays. Members of the Azusa Pacific University nursing program will also be onhand to provide health consulting and skin care. The program will continue through late March.

On weather activated nights, like last year, a limited number of motel vouchers will be provided.

Friends In Deed will provide short-term motel stays when overnight temperatures are projected to drop below 40 degrees or there is a greater than 40% chance of rain. The housing department is working with the Public Health Department and other contracted homeless service provider agencies to also provide weather-activated motel services this season.

In 2020, the housing department created the Scattered Site Emergency Motel Program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which served people experiencing homelessness identified as high risk for serious illness or death if they were to contract COVID-19.

The program provided protective non-congregate shelter at motel sites in and near Pasadena and was administered by four local homeless services providers, including Friends In Deed.

Over the course of 15 months, the program served 79 people, 20 of whom obtained permanent housing.

An additional 19 were matched to a permanent housing resource but were still going through the process of finding permanent housing.

The extra funds will allow for the continued provision of motel vouchers for these individuals until they obtain permanent housing.

Friends in Deed Executive Director Rabbi Joshua Levin Grater said last month the nonprofit was pleased to continue offering creative solutions during the pandemic for those experiencing homelessness.

“All of our programs have been able to shift to make accommodations for almost two years now. Incredible thanks goes out to our local congregations and the City of Pasadena for working with us to provide for the vulnerable members of our community, as well as our wonderful board, staff, and volunteers.”

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