Pasadena expands city's homeless services; more churches can now offer overnight parking sites

Eric Resendiz Image
Tuesday, June 13, 2023
More churches in Pasadena can now offer parking sites to homeless
On Monday, the Pasadena City Council approved a pilot program that would allow all religious locations in commercial sites to have overnight parking sites for the homeless.

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- Homeless individuals in Pasadena will soon have even more places to lay their heads at night including, controversially, in church parking lots.

During Monday's meeting, the city council approved a new amendment that expands its homeless services.

During the pandemic, the city teamed up with Union Station Homeless Services to administer a program with All Saints Church, which provides a safe outdoor overnight sleeping space on church grounds.

The city's homeless count shows the number of unhoused people living in the city has gone up. In 2022, there were a reported 512 homeless people. This year, it went up by 44.

"It's getting crazy, every single block there's a homeless guy," said resident Alan Khachatouran. "Everything is bad, the economy is going worse, it's making life a lot harder, you know?"

During Monday's meeting, congregants from the Trinity Lutheran Church were there in support of more safe parking sites for the homeless.

They are the only church in the city with a permit to have a safe overnight parking site for the homeless to sleep in their cars.

On Monday, the council approved a pilot program that would allow all religious locations in commercial sites to also have overnight parking.

Suzane Lee has been an overnight parker for a year.

"I was one of the original ones that got in quite quickly, I was a miracle that I got in," she said. "We also have relationships with the congregation so we are also in a very nice space, emotionally, to be in a very difficult predicament."

Khachatouran isn't looking forward to the program.

"I don't think it's a good idea at all because them just being welcome on the street is making it even worse then," he said.

The overnight parking comes with strict rules, including no drinking and no drug use. There's also a security guard working overnight.

Currently, there is only one shelter in the city of Pasadena located at the Union Station Homeless Services. The approved amendments would also allow for emergency shelters to open up and make use of both areas, such as using residential and commercial areas.

"I think it's going to be great," said Trinity Lutheran Church Pastor Sharon Richter. "If more churches and synagogues and temples, because it's all religious facilities, not just Christian, would allow this in their very underused parking lots, I think we could solve most of the people sleeping in their cars."

The Pasadena City Council is set to meet in six months to review the pilot program.