The Pasadena Homeless Count, which provides meaningful data to further understand the current local homeless population, was released Thursday morning. It shows an 8.6% increase in the number of homeless counted.
The count, also known as the Point in Time Count, is required for Pasadena by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in order to receive annual federal Continuum of Care Program funding. The count is typically taken during the last ten days of January.
The goal of the count is to produce a snapshot figure of how many people are homeless across Pasadena on a typical night.
In contrast to other jurisdictions that only conduct the count every other year, Pasadena opts for an annual count to better understand the extent of homelessness, track local performance in addressing the issue, identify priorities, guide resource allocation, and increase public awareness about homelessness.
The data will be used by the City and nonprofits involved in serving the unhoused to understand the extent of homelessness and the changes in trends among specific sub-populations, to identify local priorities that should be considered in making resource allocation decisions, and to help in the planning and development of more effective services and resources.
Groups of volunteers counted the unsheltered population in Pasadena on the evening of January 24.
Last year, Pasadena counted 512 people experiencing homelessness on a single night in 2022, slightly lower than the 2021 count of 527.
“The homeless count is really helpful for us in that it shows us the trends of what’s happening around homelessness,” Anne Miskey, President and CEO of Union Station Homeless Services said. “Last count, we saw a dramatic rise in the Latino population of people experiencing homelessness. So it helps us to really look at those trends and determine, okay, what is our response as an agency? How can we ensure that we’re providing services as well as housing that fit specific needs of specific groups within the homeless population.”
Miskey said she will not be surprised if the number of homeless people in the city has increased due to the lifting of the eviction moratorium and other renter protections.
“I think we are expecting a potential, at least a small, increase — hopefully not too much,” Miskey told Pasadena Now earlier this week. “I will say in Pasadena, there has been a lot of support for the work that we do and our fellow agencies do to keep the numbers from skyrocketing too high.”
An advocacy group that focuses on housing in Pasadena says tracking the numbers is extremely important.
“The homeless count data gives advocacy groups like Pasadena For All a sense of how our city is measuring up on one of its most basic responsibilities — ensuring Pasadenans have a safe place to call home,” Suarez said.
Suarez said Pasadena For All saw an influx of volunteers in recent months who are ready to provide meals and critical supplies to those without homes.
“Tracking that number is critical because we know that more needs to be done to protect tenants and to ensure that our neighbors who are just barely hanging on can remain housed,” said Victor Suarez of Pasadena for All, a group that provides homeless residents with meals, hygiene kits, and other supplies.
While the city has “incredible resources” and neighbors who “deeply care” about one another, Suarez said the city needs leaders who have a sense of urgency and a bold vision to guarantee housing “as a right” in Pasadena.
Pasadena Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Paul Little said the city must do something to house homeless people, specifically those who are suffering from a mental illness and those who are struggling with substance abuse, as they are likely to confront and frighten customers and adversely affect businesses.
“At the Chamber, we have had homeless mentally ill people intrude into our ground floor offices and not leave. We had a shirtless homeless man carrying a sledgehammer walking down the middle of our street screaming. We had a homeless mentally ill person walking along the sidewalk kicking aggressively at windows and doors.”
“It is frustrating that there are not significant and long-term solutions for the people suffering mental illness or addiction and the residents and businesses suffering as a result. They need to be off the streets.”
The result of last year’s homeless count was “encouraging” for Little. He expressed hopes that every homeless person who wants housing will be immediately housed, as he added that this will also benefit the whole city, including businesses.