According to a memo by Pasadena Housing Director William Huang, the city’s homeless senior citizen population is increasing at an alarming rate.

Pasadena saw a 65 percent increase—from 153 to 253 — in homeless seniors (people 50 and older) over the past two years. The San Gabriel Valley saw a staggering 116 percent increase — from 188 to 406 — over the past year, Huang said.

The increases are largely due to economic woes as costs continue to rise at rates that make basic housing unaffordable for the middle class and poor people.

“It’s an indication that seniors are having a hard time. The typical Social Security payment is $1,300 a month,” said Huang. “In this area, that is not even one month’s rent. Pasadena is a high-cost area, so we see the impact more than in other places. Our residents get hit more by housing costs, which have increased much faster than income.”

The average rent for an apartment in Pasadena is about $2,200 a month. Landlords can raise the rent at any time, and in some cases residents are faced with $500 a month increases. A local effort to force a rent control ordinance onto the November ballot failed in May. A statewide initiative will appear on the ballot that would repeal a law blocking rent control in local communities. (Please see a related story on page 8.).

Overall, Pasadena saw an 18 percent increase in homeless people, from 575 in 2017 to 677 this year.

The homeless population in Los Angeles County dropped by 4 percent — from 55,048 to 52,765 — during the same time period, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA).

The city’s public transportation system, specifically the Gold Line, may also be a factor in the rising numbers, as it allows more people to come into Pasadena.

According to a June 28 column by Anthony Manousos which appeared in the Pasadena Weekly, religious leaders and church members have signed more than 400 letters in support of homeless housing for seniors.