The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote next week on allocating $100 million in funding for homeless shelters – one for each of the county’s five supervisorial districts.
But before that happens, Supervisor Mike Antonovich will present Pasadena’s Union Station Foundation with a check for $1 million for construction of an emergency homeless shelter.
Antonovich spokesman Tony Bell said he wasn’t sure how his boss plans to vote, but said the funds that are being used for the five shelters were initially earmarked for public safety purposes.
Because of that, and because it was still not clear where the proposed 24-hour shelters would be built, Antonovich, Bell said, favors entering into partnerships with existing agencies, like Union Station.
County officials estimate that there are up to 90,000 homeless men, women and children living on the streets any given night.
Giving money to Union Station may serve as an example of an alternative to what Bell called a “shotgun blast” approach of the countywide proposal.
“This money was earmarked to solve the problems in our jails,” Bell said. “Our first reaction is, ‘Where will this money come from?’ Can we afford to take it from law enforcement when we have these sorts of problems in the jail? Other board members are talking about bond measures. The sheriff is looking at a sales tax increase,” Bell said.
“Someone needs to be looking out for the taxpayers’ rights. That’s why something like a partnership with Union Station makes so much sense,” he said.
Maybe for the county it makes sense, but Pasadena city officials may feel differently.
City Councilman Steve Madison, who represents neighborhoods surrounding Union Station, could not be reached for comment by press time.
However, last year Madison raised concerns about whether an expansion of Union Station would increase the area’s homeless population with negative neighborhood impacts.
In addition to the shelters, the county’s proposal also calls for the creation of an $80 million trust fund for housing, a service center for homeless families and an affordable housing computer database.
The $1 million in county funds, which will provide shelter for 100 homeless people, compliments a fundraising effort by Union Station that has already raised $8.5 million.