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 its annual 3-day mission to count those living in poverty on the streets in Los Angeles County, including South Pasadena.
On the night of Tuesday, January 21, from 7 to 10 p.m., members of the South Pasadena Police Department will tour the city counting individuals without a home.
As a standard practice, volunteers across the county count the homeless population each January. As a result of it geographical small size, it will take only one night to conclude the task locally, as a team of police officers will add up those without a roof over their heads in South Pasadena.
As they travel throughout the city in their search, the officers will provide cold weather gear, hats, a snack, water, a list of local resources, care/hygiene kits, and blankets to those in need while bringing warmth from the chill of the night.
“This is the main thing we want to give to our homeless in the city,” says South Pasadena Police lieutenant Shannon Robledo. “We want to make sure they have the resources to help them get back on their feet.”
However, Robledo said many of the homeless refuse receiving any kind of support, noting: “They know where to act upon the resources, but we always want to let them know where the resources come from, whether it be food, a shower, housing or any type of service”
Information gathered by LAHSA will be used to determine the total number of homeless throughout Los Angeles County.
Over the years, Robledo says the average number each year in South Pasadena has been somewhere between 12 and 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.”
Before setting out to find the homeless in encampments – under bridges and even in cars – Corporal Randy Wise, the point person for this year’s operation, will meet with the search team, including officers and community members, inside a small conference room outside 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.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority released the results of the 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, showing 58,936 people in Los Angeles County experiencing homelessness, representing a 12% rise from 2018 point-in-time count of 52,765. The city of Los Angeles saw a 16% rise to 36,300.
Robledo, who has fought for the homeless over the years, knows many of them personally while showing compassion wherever his travels in the city take him. He simply cares.
“It’s an opportunity for the homeless to provide us with their next of kin and the medications they take just in case they are in dire need,” he said. “We can let the paramedics know about their condition. We’re basically their voice. If they get sick, with their permission, their next of kin will be notified. It’s a way for us to help them where we can.”