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Pasadena Outreach Response Team Receives $900,000 Federal Grant

Published on Tuesday, March 21, 2023 | 12:40 pm

File photo shows Gillermo Vasquez a psychiatric registered nurse working with the Pasadena Police Department, left, and Pasadena Police Officers Donovan Jones and Ed Acosta walk through an opening of a fence under a local Metro Gold Line bridge looking for homeless people living there on Tuesday September 3, 2019. [James Carbone for ‘Behind the Badge’]
The Pasadena Outreach Response Team, known as PORT, is receiving $900,000 through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, via Congressional Directive Spending allocated by Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-28).

PORT is a collaboration between the Pasadena Public Health and Fire departments, as well as Union Station Homeless Services and Huntington Health, that provides links to housing opportunities for those experiencing chronic homelessness, severe mental illness, substance use disorders, physical disabilities, and complex chronic health conditions.

“PORT has been instrumental in reducing barriers to care for our unhoused population,” said Victor M. Gordo, Pasadena Mayor. “On behalf of the City of Pasadena, I would like to thank Congressmember Chu for her commitment to supporting underserved populations in Pasadena.”

Funding will support operations, field-based outreach, and resources that connect participants to housing, medical care, and mental health and substance abuse services.

“Addressing homelessness is a public health priority,” said Manuel Carmona, acting public health director. “The most important factor for success in the PORT model is a commitment to preserving human dignity, which is key to building the trust necessary to connect people experiencing homelessness with the services they need.”

Since PORT was formed in 2018, team members have utilized a street-based approach to establish relationships with program participants that builds trust over time and allow the team to facilitate access to needed services.

With support from the Police Department, PORT added a second team in 2021 that has responded to over 550 emergency 911 dispatch calls for concerns related to people experiencing homelessness and reduced the need for law enforcement response. The PORT team is comprised of a case manager (social worker), public health nurse, firefighter, and an outreach worker.
PORT has provided extensive support to people experiencing homelessness in Pasadena including:

• Connected with over 1500 individuals experiencing homelessness
• Enrolled 235 participants in public health programs
• Supported the transition of 51 seniors and transitional-age youth into subsidized low-income or shared housing
• Scheduled and transported participants to 249 clinical appointments

“The PORT model highlights the power of collaboration,” stated Chad Augustin, Pasadena Fire Chief. “This grant will provide PORT the support needed to continue making a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable population.”

For more information on PORT, contact Pasadena Public Health Department at (626) 744-6339.

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