Reading a Pasadena Now March 29, 2021 article on the creation of temporary housing in Los Angeles has prompted me to write. People who are without permanent housing (homeless people) are our neighbors. They live in our community, attend our schools, and spend money in our businesses. They are individuals and families with children. Some live in cars and others on the street in tents. Yes, it is true that some homeless people suffer from mental illness, just as members of our own families do. Yes, it is true that some homeless people suffer from alcohol and drug addition, just as members of our own families do. While some homeless people are unemployed, many are under-employed who simply cannot afford housing. We all have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but obviously some have borne the brunt much more than others. And like all of us, homeless people are entitled to services to help with these problems. I know that I am not the only person who feels this way, as Mayor Gordo was quoted that Pasadena needs to support those who are homeless and in need.
We know, from studies and research, that the best way to begin helping our neighbors in need is first to help with the basic needs of all people, and that means finding ways off the streets and into housing. Pasadena, like all of California, is short on long-term or permanent housing and requires years to develop and build. Initially, we need to help with bridge housing to help the homeless get off the street and then into long-term secure housing. This will allow for the next steps of assistance, whether it is looking for employment, finding medical care, or just getting a life back in order.
The City of Los Angeles, like many other cities in California such as San Jose, Sacramento and Riverside, has made the step toward bridge housing by building tiny homes on tracts of land to create a community to help the homeless. There currently are two under development in Eagle Rock and Highland Park after successful launches of these communities in North Hollywood and Venice. Los Angeles has contracted with Pallet Shelters for these tiny houses. One of the many benefits is that these structures can be built in an hour and, when not needed, taken down quickly and stored easily until needed again. These shelters and developments also provide for the basic needs, such as security for belongings, showers, toilets, laundry facilities, meals and other necessities.
I read in the article that there are community members who are concerned about tiny home communities and the potential effects of developing tiny home projects. I would like to assure our entire Pasadena community that these issues have been well thought out and plans in place. In addition to basic necessities mentioned above, there is 24-hour security, a prohibition on drugs and alcohol, 24-hour monitoring of residents for compliance with rules, and an outreach office on site that provides assistance with job placement and training as well as mental health and substance abuse. As for the appearance, the current development in North Hollywood has been very attractively decorated, but furthermore, these villages are exceptionally more elegant than the current scenario of scattered tent cities on sidewalks and under freeways. Finally, studies and research do not bear out any correlation between bridge housing developments and increases in crime.
Providing temporary housing for our unsheltered neighbors is a “win-win”: a win for our unsheltered neighbors and a win for our overall community. I invite all of our Pasadena community, especially our political leaders, to learn more about the facts related to homelessness in our City, as well as the need for, and benefits of, bridge housing. Please join a coalition of residents and experts for a Zoom webinar event this May entitled “Who’s Next Door? Building Bridges: Solutions to Homelessness.” (Details to be announced soon by Union Station Homeless Services (https://unionstationhs.org).
Michael Albrecht serves on the Human Services Commission for the Pasadena City Council. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Human Services Commission or Pasadena City Councilmembers.