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Pasadena’s “Bad Weather Shelter” Ramps Up Now to Prevent Homeless Deaths in Coming El Nino

Published on Thursday, August 20, 2015 | 4:22 am

With California in dire need of rainfall, the upcoming El Nino may promise a much wetter winter than usual. The natural phenomenon typically brings twenty-five inches of rain to Downtown Los Angeles each time it comes around. However, meteorologists predict that this winter’s El Nino could be the strongest in over fifty years.

Pasadena’s “Bad Weather Shelter,” operated by the nonprofit organization, “Friends In Deed,” is aiming to increase funding in preparation for the imminent El Nino.

The idea of the “Bad Weather Shelter” was spurred by multiple deaths of the homeless caused by hypothermia in Los Angeles County.

Tracing its roots back to 1986, “The Bad Weather Shelter opened in response to the emergency needs of homeless persons in Pasadena. [The Bad Weather Shelter serves] individuals who for a variety of reasons lack adequate refuge during the cold and wet winter months.”

The goal of the shelter is to prevent homeless persons from dying of hypothermia during the coldest part of the year. As such, the Bad Weather Shelter opens the day after Thanksgiving to mid-March whenever the weather forecasts anticipate rain or temperatures below forty degrees.

In 2012, the Bad Weather Shelter lost an annual $60,000 contribution by the City of Pasadena due to budget cuts.

Fortunately, the then local high school student Rebecca Huang founded the “Friends of the Bad Weather Shelter,” campaign which gathered the necessary donations from private parties such as local businesses and residents to keep the shelter running. The campaign raised over $50,000 in the last three years to enable the shelter to continue its operations.

Rebecca was prompted to help the shelter when she found out that nine homeless people died of hypothermia in Los Angeles County, including one person in Pasadena, during the winter of 1986-1987.

“When I found out about the shelter from my father [Housing & Career Services Director for the City of Pasadena William Huang] and about its possible closure, I had to at least try to keep the shelter open. If the shelter were to close, these same tragedies could very well occur again, so to me, it is not an option to let a shelter that plays such a vital role close. We, as a community, need to find the funds to keep the shelter operating,” Rebecca states.

The high tolerance shelter is weather-activated, basing its operation upon the likelihood of low temperatures or rain. Guests are welcomed for a hot meal and a warm place to sleep if the temperature drops below forty degrees or if there is a forty percent chance of rain.

The shelter’s staff is comprised of volunteers and dedicated members, with some having professional experience with homeless service organizations such as Union Station, Lake Avenue Foundation, and Passageways. The shelter is even able to provide “a nurse from Passageways/Pacific Clinics, who provides flu shots, health evaluations and palliative care.”

Although the City of Pasadena, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Los Angeles County Mayor Michael Mike Antonovich have made contributions in the past, the shelter is currently asking for more funds to best prepare for the powerful El Nino.

This past July, heavy rain caused a bridge on the Interstate 10 to collapse, foreboding the problems that could very well be underway.

Already, a record rainfall of 0.36 inch for the month of July in Downtown Los Angeles has broken the previous 0.25 inch record way back in July 1886.

Rebecca concludes, “With a potential El Nino, the shelter will very likely need to be opened significantly more nights than the previous couple of winters. I hope that enough funds can be raised so that the shelter is able to be open every night that it needs to be. We definitely need the entire community, including businesses, to step up and help prepare for a potentially very harsh winter.”

Donations for the Bad Weather Shelter can me made directly to Friends in Deed or online at


Thomas Dang was first introduced to journalism when he enrolled in San Marino High School’s newspaper class, Titan Shield. He wrote as a Staff Writer in his Freshman year and was later promoted to News Editor in his Junior year. Dang became the Editor-in-Chief by his Senior year. He heard about the Bad Weather Shelter when he met Director of Housing for the City of Pasadena William Huang. Dang enjoys lifting weights in his spare time and is an avid car enthusiast. His favorite historical figure is Benjamin Franklin but has lately become hugely inspired by Elon Musk. He will be attending PCC this fall.

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