Money will go toward subsidized housing project
By Matthew Rodriguez

Last week the Salvation Army received $378,000 to create the new permanent supportive housing project dubbed the Pasadena Hope Center.

The four-story building will provide 65 studio apartments of subsidized housing for individuals experiencing homelessness in the region. The first floor will be used for supportive services such as a food pantry and Salvation Army social services offices.

“It was initially a much smaller project,” said Salvation Army: Pasadena director of social services Jhoana Hirasuna. “The initial idea was to redo this building and make it a choice pantry and be more efficient in how we’re able to serve our community.”

As described by Hirasuna, the current Salvation Army food pantry in Pasadena is a very old office building that was never intended to serve as a food pantry. When the idea to reconstruct a new building started manifesting, the Salvation Army began consulting with city officials.

After speaking with Mayor Terry Tornek and Director of Housing Bill Huang, the charitable organization decided to help the city raise its affordable housing stock to help combat the homelessness issue growing in Pasadena.

According to Robin Dunn, a divisional director at the Salvation Army, the cost of the building actually went down from $10 million to $3.7 million due to government funding and other tax breaks, but that was not the reason why they decided to go forward with this project.

“The Salvation army was started in 1865 in London, England with the goal of helping people who were down and out,” said Capt. Terry Masango of the Pasadena Tabernacle Corps, the leadership body of the Salvation Army. “Back then they used to say soup, soap and salvation.”

While Masango refers to the old motto of “soup, soap and salvation”, the Salvation Army still stays true to its mission helping over 23 million Americans annually.

“We want to provide affordable housing for people,” said Masango. “It’s not a shelter, it’s not a transitional bridge house. We are not going to say after two years, you must leave because we are trying to provide a permanent solution to the problem of homelessness.”

According to a 2019 poll by the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Business Council Institute, about a third of respondents said they have experienced homelessness or housing insecurity or knew someone who has. Housing insecurity is defined as an individual paying more than 30% of their income toward rent. If they pay 50% of their income toward rent then they are defined as being severely cost-burdened by their housing.

The residents of the Pasadena Hope Center will pay only 30% of their income towards rent. The project follows the “housing first” model of solving homelessness. With the belief that housing will help create a platform to improve one’s life, the Salvation Army hopes to not only provide housing but social services, hence the food pantry and offices on the first floor.

“The wraparound services, the case management and making sure that they’re getting connected to other resources are vital to ensuring their success.” n