Thursday, June 14, 2018

Pasadena’s Faith and Community Leaders Call on the City Council to House Homeless Seniors at Heritage Square South

“Homeless housing is a moral imperative and a matter of social justice.”

As people of faith and conscience, we call upon the Pasadena City Council to approve homeless housing at Heritage Square South, a property on the corner of Fair Oaks and Orange Grove purchased fifteen years ago with HUD and other funding for affordable housing. 
The Housing Department has determined that this site is ideal for homeless housing and could accommodate 69 homeless seniors, a population that has increased 65% over the past three years. Funding to build permanent supportive housing is available through federal, state, and county sources.
Pasadena’s homeless population has soared in the last three years. According to the 2018 Homeless Count, “the sharpest increases were seen among those living on the street, in parks, encampments, vehicles and other places not fit for human habitation.” This vulnerable population increased 33% in the past year. The count also notes that “half of respondents living on the street were living in Pasadena when they most recently lost their housing.” The survey concludes that “people living on the streets are our neighbors.”
As people of faith and conscience, we feel that we have a moral obligation to ensure that our homeless neighbors are housed with dignity.
Despite this urgent need to house our homeless neighbors, the City Council is considering selling this property to a commercial developer, which would mean forfeiting a million dollars to HUD. We are deeply disturbed that this option is being seriously considered.
On Monday, June 11, the City Council turned over $472,399 in redevelopment successor funds to a homeless housing project in Los Angeles. These funds were slated for permanent supportive housing in Pasadena but could not be used here because for the past three years the Council has not approved any permanent supportive housing (PSH) projects, including Heritage Square South. This is an unconscionable loss to our city.
We are deeply concerned about this lack of homeless housing since studies show that PHS is the best practice to end homelessness.
The City Council does not have a single PHS project in the pipeline, even though funding is available for such housing and even though “high rents and a shortage of housing” is a major cause of homelessness in our city, according to the 2018 Homeless Count.
We feel that our City is morally obligated to house our homeless population, especially since we have the land and the funding to do so.
We urge the City Council to take immediate action to approve homeless housing at Heritage Square South. We regard this as a moral imperative and a matter of social justice.

“Give shelter to the homeless” (Isaiah 58:7).

Donna Hess, Property Manager, Heritage Square North

Rev. Inman Moore, Sierra Madre UMC

Pastor Tera Klein, Throop Church

Rabbi Jonathan Klein, CLUELA

Pastor Dan Davison, Rose City Church

Tarek Shawky, Muslim attorney

Rev. Sandy K. Olewine, First United Methodist Church of Pasadena

Rev William Turner, Jr.- New Revelation Missionary Baptist Church

Pastor John Stewart, New Guiding Light Church

Rev Jeff Utter, retired UCC pastor

Elbert Newton, Mennonite author, activist, homeless service provider

Greater Pasadena Affordable Housing Group (GPAHG)

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