FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Event: HOUSE PASADENA’S HOMELESS SENIORS! Interfaith vigil during Ramadan and the Poor Peoples Campaign calls on elected officials to take action.
When: Friday, June 8, from 7:00 pm until dawn.
Where: At Heritage Square South, on the corner of Orange Grove and Fair Oaks (behind Church’s Chicken).
Contact: Anthony Manousos. 625-375-1423 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pasadena, CA: On Friday, June 8, from 7:00 pm till dawn Muslims, Christians, Jews and other people of faith and conscience will gather for an intergenerational interfaith vigil and “sleep over” on the corner of Orange Grove and Fair Oaks (behind Church’s Chicken) to call attention to the urgent need for permanent supportive housing in Pasadena. They will worship together, provide Church’s chicken for homeless residents, and urge elected officials to use this site for which it was originally purchased fifteen years ago, namely, affordable housing.
The need for action is urgent. The latest homeless count in Pasadena shows that the number of unsheltered homeless residents living on the streets increased 33% last year, with the number of those over 50 years old increasing by 65% over the last three years. Last year the total count was 575; this year it’s 677.
“Elderly people are sleeping in bushes and dying on our streets,” says vigil organizer Anthony Manousos, a Quaker peace and justice advocate. “That’s why I and others are fasting and praying that our City Council will take action as soon as possible to address this crisis. Even though permanent supportive housing is the best evidence-based practice to end homelessness, the Pasadena City Council does not currently have any plans to build permanent supportive housing despite the urgent need. We know Pasadena can do better. We reduced homelessness by 54% in the past, and we can and should do better in the future.”
Tarek Shawky, a Muslim attorney, explained why he feels led to support this vigil and spend the night at Heritage Square South:
"Ramadan is a month of faith, reflection and service. Homelessness and housing is a major challenge in Pasadena and LA County and as faith communities we stand together to serve and raise awareness in the hope of alleviating this crisis. I want our city leaders to know we expect them to follow through on plans to provide senior homeless housing at this location for folks who would otherwise have nowhere to live."
He also had a personal reason to take part in this vigil: "Whenever I walk around Old Pasadena with my 6-year-old son he reminds me that we can't just walk by our homeless neighbors without doing our part to help. I'm trying to do my part along with other faith leaders and I hope that together our voices will be amplified and make a difference."
This event is also taking place during the 40 days of action of the Poor People’s Campaign—a revival of a campaign started by Rev. Martin Luther King in 1968. During the final year of his life, Dr. King called for economic justice, especially housing justice, to end poverty. Thousands of demonstrators are protesting and getting arrested around the nation in order to call attention to the urgent issue of poverty in our country.
Bert Newton, founder of the Palm Sunday Peace Parade (which helped launch the Poor People’s Campaign in Pasadena this spring), explains why he will be spending the night at Heritage Square South.
“We are in a severe housing crisis,” says Newton, a homeless service provider. “Homelessness is spiking in Pasadena again. As a person of conscience and faith, I cannot simply stand by and watch people suffer and die on the streets. The problem of homelessness is complicated and difficult to solve, but here we have an opportunity to actually do something to save some people from the miserable fate of spending their senior years in homelessness. If spending the night outside will call attention to the problem and help get this project underway, how can I not do it?”
This action is being organized by the Greater Pasadena Area Affordable Housing Group (GPAHG), which formed a subcommittee to urge the Pasadena City Council to use the South Heritage Square property to house homeless seniors. To find out how you can take part, contact Anthony Manousos at email@example.com or 626-375-1423.