Everyone counts, no matter where they live.
That’s the message from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) as the non-profit agency embarks on a yearly 3-day mission this time of year to count those living in poverty on the streets in Los Angeles County, including South Pasadena.
On Tuesday night, Sofie Peralta, a crisis housing coordinator with LAHSA, took part in the count along with members of the South Pasadena Police Department and a city commissioner.
Seventy-five volunteers across the county count the homeless population each January. As a result of it geographical small size, it took only one night to conclude the task locally as a team of six workers met with a 12 individuals without a roof over their heads in South Pasadena.
The City of South Pasadena, The Purist Group – an organization of area car enthusiasts – and Women Involved in South Pasadena Political Action (WISPPA) – pushing for accountability, integrity, and transparency in South Pasadena government – donated cold weather gear, hats, granola bars, water, a list of local resources, care/hygiene kits, and blankets to bring warmth from the chill of the night.
Inside the backpack, the homeless also found a list of resources, providing information about nearby shelters where they could find a bed and, perhaps, their next hot meal.
“This is the main thing we want to give to our homeless in the city,” South Pasadena Police Sgt. Shannon Robledo said of the list. “We want to make sure they have the resources to help them get back on their feet.”
Information gathered by LAHSA will be used to determine the total number of homeless throughout the county.
Over the years, Robledo says the average number each year in South Pasadena has been 15.
“What we’re trying to do is educate the public that being homeless is not a crime,” he said. “However, we have to be sensitive on the enforcement part because we do have to enforce, but we also have to show some type of compassion. So, we’re kind of balancing the enforcement with the compassion.”
In the city’s mission to help the homeless Tuesday night, Robledo and Peralta was joined by Sgt. Matt Ronnie, Officer Daren Wong, Officer Ryan Hang, and Grace Kung of the Public Safety Commission.
Before setting out to find the homeless in encampments, under bridges and even in cars, Robledo met with the team inside a conference room near the City Council chambers at City Hall to go over the game plan for the evening.
“Giving them the resources they need is important to us,” said Robledo, noting that the police department has a binder full of information about homeless members in the community, stressing that the contents are strictly voluntary by those lacking housing.
“It’s an opportunity for the homeless to provide us with their next akin and the medications they take just in case they are in dire need,” explained Robledo. “We we can let the paramedics know about their condition. We’re basically their voice. If they get sick, with their permission, their next akin will be notified. It’s a way for us to help them where we can.”