LocationAlhambra , CA United States
Last year, a non-profit applied to turn a rundown motel near Temple City into housing for homeless veterans.
The project drew heavy opposition from nearby residents, who said the project would increase crime and lower their property values.
William Huang, the director of housing for the City of Pasadena, spoke to one of his friends who had signed the petition against the development. “I would have signed that petition too, if I knew that that was true,” he said. “But what these folks were talking about was not based on fact.”
Homelessness is a major issue in the Los Angeles area, with 58,000 homeless people living in L.A. County in 2017 and with the San Gabriel Valley itself experiencing a 36 percent increase in homelessness, according to last year’s Homeless Count data. This has motivated cities like Pasadena to explore solutions to homelessness, especially through the construction of permanent housing.
Huang showed a video about Marv’s Place, a 19-unit building that provides permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless families, featuring interviews from Pasadena Police Department officials, who said that this project addressed crime by placing the homeless in a stable situation. It also included the words of a Pasadena-based real estate agent, who said that projects like this didn’t affect property values, because they were well regulated and designed to fit with the existing neighborhood character.
“Pasadena is still a highly desirable place to live,” said Huang.
Some residents expressed skepticism that Alhambra has the resources to address homelessness and affordable housing to the extent that a larger city like Pasadena does. “I worry that people are going to leave this meeting and say, ‘Oh, that’s Pasadena,” said Andrea Lofthouse-Quesada.
Huang said because the housing crisis here is so severe, residents have put a lot of pressure on politicians to address affordable housing and homelessness. L.A. County supervisors have put aside a significant amount of their general fund money for affordable housing after housing advocates held candidate forums to get commitments from them on this issue.
“You just have to let your elected officials know that it’s a serious issue,” said Huang, adding that perhaps cities like Alhambra would pass measures like inclusionary ordinances or even a rent control ordinance if they knew that that was important to their constituents.
Huang also suggested that cities implement programs like the Real Change Movement, to get more people involved in ending homelessness. Located in Pasadena, downtown Los Angeles and West Palm Beach, Fla., the Real Change Movement involves special parking meters scattered throughout a city where people can donate their spare change to homeless causes.
Grassroots Alhambra’s housing forum also included a presentation from Melissa Odotei, a program manager and housing navigator at Family Promise, which helps homeless families find housing in the San Gabriel Valley. A unique feature of Family Promise is its network of churches, including First Baptist Church in Alhambra, which provides supplies and housing assistance to homeless families while Family Promise helps them find a permanent solution.
Grassroots Alhambra also announced its scholarship winners at the close of the forum.
The City of Alhambra is holding a community input session on homelessness on May 2, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. at the Alhambra Civic Center Library. More information here.
Watch the City of Pasadena’s video about Marv’s Place below:
Updated Monday, May 7, 2018 at 12:10 p.m. with Grassroots Alhambra scholarship winners.