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Martin Luther King and Affordable Housing: A Community Zoom Event

15 Jan

Join us for this online event sponsored by the  Pasadena Affordable Housing Coalition  (which includes MHCH, the League of Women Voters, POP!, the NAACP and 13 other community organizations. See list below.)

When: Monday January 17 at 7 pm

Register via Zoom 

The Coalition is organizing the community to provide input to Pasadena’s Housing Element which will guide the City’s housing policy until 2029. Our speakers include:

  •  Allen Edson, President of NAACP-Pasadena will speak on Dr. King’s call for fair and affordable housing.
  •  Jill Shook, Executive Director of MHCH will spotlight community efforts to change zoning laws in support of building affordable housing on congregational land. 
  • Michelle White, Executive Director of Affordable Housing Services will speak on protecting tenants’ rights through rent control and just cause eviction. 
  • Rick Cole, will speak on the status of the City’s updated Housing Element sent to the State Housing Department. 

Coalition Members:  Abundant Housing LA, ACLU-Pasadena, ACT, Affordable Housing Services, Clergy Community Coalition (CCC), Democrats of Pasadena Foothills, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA), League of Women Voters-Pasadena, Making Housing and Community Happen (MHCH), NAACP-Pasadena, National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON), Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition, Pasadena Foursquare Church, Social Justice Committee of the  Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center, Pasadenans Organizing for Progress-POP!, Pasadena For All

Open Letter to Elected Officials on SB 9

3 Dec

As person of faith, I believe in the Golden Rule: “treat others as you wish to be treated.” Because I am blessed with owning a home here in Pasadena, I want to do everything possible to ensure that others have that blessing. I am also aware that I have benefited from policies that have inhibited the production of homes and thereby raised prices beyond what people can afford. The home that Jill bought for $140,000 now is worth over $850,00. Jesus says; “To whom much is given, much will be required: (Luke 12:48). If you have heard that line of wisdom, you know it means we are held responsible for what we have. If we have been blessed with homes that have increased wildly in value, it is expected that we do what we can to benefit others. I encourage you to write our elected officials and let them know that you support SB 9 and don’t want them to enact policies that will thwart the production of single family homes. Below  is my letter with talking points you are free to use. Here’s the link to today’s city council meeting where the the city’s response to SB 9 will be item #14. Please send your comments in writing or else pull a speaker card. (I plan to do both.) Thanks!

Dear Mayor and City Council members.

I want to thank you for supporting ADUs in the past few years, especially the Housing Department’s award-winning pilot program. I am writing to suggest that fears about SB 9 are greatly exaggerated, just like fears about ADUs. The Terner study says that SB 9 would  enable development of duplexes on only 5.4 % of parcels in the state, and most of these would not be developed because of cost and other factors. The impact on Pasadena would be very limited, just like the impact of ADUs.

It is worth noting that most of your constituents probably support SB 9. According to a recent LA Times poll, three quarter of renters and a plurality of homeowners support SB 9.  See

Unfortunately, elected officials are listening to the vocal minority, the wealthy elite, not to those who see the value of creating more affordable homes to address the housing crisis in our state and city.

SB 9 will not destroy single family neighborhoods, as critics allege. It simply allows for more single-family homes in these neighborhoods.

The cost of smaller homes on smaller lots will no doubt be less than the current cost of big homes in big lots. This will benefit the “missing middle” who are seeking housing they can afford. It could also help people of color, most of whom cannot afford million dollar homes in Pasadena.

Some have proposed turning most of Pasadena into historic districts to thwart SB 9, but this is an overreaction that could have harmful consequences. I love the historical character of our city and want to see it preserved, but I don’t see that SB 9 poses a significant threat requiring draconian action. Many Pasadenans (myself included) are likely to resent having their homes turned into historical sites and lose the right to build a duplex, or even make changes on their homes. Requests for historical status have always come from the “bottom up,” not imposed from “top down.”

The Council is also considering other ways to thwart implementation of SB 9, such as requiring that they be “affordable.” While we at MHCH support affordable housing, we are concerned that requiring that homes built under SB 9 be “affordable” may be a “poison bill” to make them economically unfeasible.

I am also concerned about requiring two mature trees on a lot where a duplex is built. While I love our city’s tree canopy, I don’t see why this requirement is being imposed on homeowners who want to split their lots. It seems like a way to cast shade on this law, not to benefit the environment.

I do support the idea of making sure  that homeowners who split their lots comply with the state’s requirement and live in their homes for three years. Enforcing this law, perhaps with a fee or fine, could deter investors from taking advantage of SB 9. Currently investors are buying up homes and converting them to rentals or jacking up prices. This is an urgent problem and I feel that this city needs to consider a “flipping fee” to deter this kind of predatory activity. This fee should go into our city’s affordable housing fund.

Instead of complaining about SB 9, the Council needs to pass design standards to insure that any homes built under SB 9 are consistent with the character of the neighborhood. It is also a good idea to read the Terner study (summarized below) and not be swayed by irrational fears.

I’d like to conclude by saying that as a person of faith, I believe in the Golden Rule: “treat others as you wish to be treated.” Because I am blessed with owning a home here in Pasadena, I want to do everything possible to ensure that others have that blessing. I am also aware that I have benefited from policies that have inhibited the production of homes and thereby raised prices beyond what people can afford. The home that Jill bought for $140,000 in the 1990s is now worth over $850,00. Jesus says; “To whom much is given, much will be required: (Luke 12:48). If you have heard that line of wisdom, you know it means we are held responsible for what we have. If we have been blessed with homes that have increased wildly in value, it is expected that we do what we can to benefit others. I hope you will take this teaching to heart as you consider how to respond t  SB 9.

Respectfully, Anthony Manousos


Few neutral studies on the potential impacts of SB 9 — and practically none on SB 10 — are available, but commentators and news publications often cite a July report from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley. It noted that the bill could allow property owners access to financing options as they construct additional units, but ultimately expressed doubt that its provisions would result in effects as sweeping as proponents hope and critics fear.

The main issue, according to the center, is that renting or selling a home developed under SB 9 would not be financially viable for many property owners. The report said SB 9 could enable the development of units on 410,000 of California’s single-family parcels, just 5.4% of such parcels in the state.
Out of those 410,000, the report’s authors estimated, the legislation would make new development financially feasible on just 110,000 parcels (for the remaining parcels, some development is already feasible, but the report authors said SB 9 would allow for even more units).

The center, which collaborated with MapCraft Labs, estimated that out of the 18,300 single-family parcels in Burbank, about 15,500 would be eligible under SB 9. However, the organization noted that the bill would increase the number of market-feasible units by roughly 800 parcels, for a total of an estimated 1,300 newly feasible units.
In total, the report noted, SB 9 could allow for the creation of more than 714,000 new homes — primarily duplexes — in California that would not otherwise be market feasible. However, it pointed out that many property owners may not want to pursue the options offered by the bill.“But despite the concerns of some of its detractors, SB 9 will not lead to the overnight transformation of residential neighborhoods,” the authors added. “Differential owner preferences and limited applicability means that only a share of that potential is likely to be developed, particularly in the near term as awareness and capacity expands.“As such, while important, the new units unlocked by SB 9 would represent a fraction of the overall supply needed to fully address the state’s housing shortage.”

Housing Controversy: Senate Bills 9 and 10, Explained

Come out on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, from 9-11am or from 2-4pm to help us do community surveys.

27 Nov

Just a few hours of your time your can make a big difference to slow traffic on N. Fair Oaks and help to make the community more friendly,  beautiful and safe…

SURVEY n fair oaks

Here’s how….

Come out on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, from 9-11am or from 2-4pm to help us do community surveys.

The city of Pasadena wants to know if there is sufficient support for a street design on N. Fair Oaks (from Washington to the border of Pasadena/Altadena). This would help to slow traffic, allow for more trees, cross walks, creating a sense of community… See the before and after image (if there is enough support).

Join us at 9am at the Harambee Center:

1609 Navarro, Pasadena, CA 91103

Or at 2pm at the Rio Meat Market:

2029 N. Fair Oaks, (meet at the inside café)

See North Fair Oaks Image Rendering / Imagenes de antes y despues de North Fair Oaks

Please RSVP

Or contact: Mario or

Jill Shook  626-675-1316

Flyer Saturday Dec 4 9-11am or 2-4pm –help do surveys!

survey n fair oaks 3

Seeks Project Coordinator for MHCH

5 Nov

We are  seeking an efficient, detail-oriented, tech-savvy and self-directed Project Coordinator with initiative and a concern for housing justice. The project Coordinator will work closely with Jill Shook, and Anthony Manousos, co-founders of Making Housing and Community Happen (MHCH), based in Pasadena, CA. The Coordinator will be responsible for performing, coordinating, administrative and organizational functions in support of MHCH, which has a track record of successful housing justice efforts for 25 years, an exciting opportunity to grow and learn what it takes to effectively address the housing crisis with a racial justice lens.

  • 25 hours per week (with 10 hours in our home-based office in Pasadena). Must be fully vaccinated.
  • $20 per hour (with potential for pay increase)
  • Start Date: ASAP

Making Housing and Community Happen is a faith-rooted non-profit organization that equips congregations, community leaders, and neighbors with practical tools needed to transform their communities, to end homelessness, and to stabilize the cost of housing through education, advocacy, organizing and advisement.

Essential responsibilities and skills include the following: (Other duties may be assigned)

Project Coordination roles:

  • Discuss ideas and plans for meeting coordination: assist with invites, media, logistics and reminders of in-person and Zoom meetings.
  • Attend and Create minutes for meetings and maintain records of meeting agendas and minutes for:
  • Staff meetings, twice a month
    • Bimonthly Meetings: 1st and 3rd Wed at 9:30am. 
    • Housing Justice Forum: Fourth Tuesday of every month from 7 PM to 8:30 PM
  • Project coordination support for Housing Justice One Day Institutes in various cities
  • Event coordinator—monthly housing justice forums and annual celebrations
  • Coordinate blog entries, invite guest’s writers and reprints with permissions
  • Coordinate social media—run Instagram and FB pages
  • Coordinate MHCH memberships to interface with into MHCH Teams: CLT, Safe Parking, ASHA, N. Fair Oaks, Institutes, and Church Liaisons.
  • Coordinate aspects of grant research and writing

Administrative functions and qualifications:

Communications: assisting with preparation of routine correspondence including weekly updates. Must be available Thursday evenings 7:30pm to plan weekly updates.

  • Ability to work with (quickly learn) Wix, Google Workspace apps, and Microsoft Office (Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel).
  • Assist with donor and volunteer communications: support the management of donor database, thank you notes, and receipts, manage receipts for reimbursements, including some phone calling and help with bulk mailings, track and manage volunteer database
  • Trouble shoot technology issues, develop and implement more efficient and effective systems for managing information, projects and communications
  • Work closely with cofounders and our website communications coordinator with some updates
  • Help to hire and work with an office assistant that would: maintain files contacts,

and news media in both hardcopy locations and electronic drives, and mail management: help manage, streamline, incoming mail.

To apply: please submit your cover letter (detailing your interest in housing justice, MHCH and why you feel this position could be a good fit for you), resume, and include the contact information for three references to 


2021 MHCH Celebration!

25 Oct

Change Gonna Come Logo landscapeThis Sunday, Dec 5, at 3 pm you are invited to our annual celebration called “A Change is Gonna Come” (based on the song by Sam Cooke). We’re thrilled that we have engaged a small jazz ensemble that will be the backup for this song sung by a Congolese singer. Both the ensemble and the singer are from churches in Pasadena that support our efforts: Pasadena Church and Wholicare Mennonite Church. 

This Sunday you’ll also hear a professional video about our work by Morgan Tucker and stories of those who are committed to housing justice. Thanks to all of you who came to our online event on Tuesday! Our goal is $25,000. Thanks for helping us get roughly halfway. Please help us get over the finish line so we can house our homeless neighbors. 

Sunday, Dec. 5th, 3-5:30 pm in person theirry and juan

Pasadena Four Square Church.

174 Harkness Ave, Pasadena, CA 91106

Your donation will be matched up to $1,000 if you donate before December 12.

Pictured is vocalist Thierry Nkwansambu, a Mennonite pastor from the Democratic Republic of Congo who serves at the Wholicare Community Church in Northwest Pasadena , and Juan Tyrus, a musician from “Salty Chips” (a band that plays at Pasadena Church). They will perform Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

We are also excited about awarding our annual “Housing Justice Rockstar” award to Pastor Brita Pinkston (Pasadena Foursquare Church), Ed Washatka (Pasadena Housing Justice Coalition and Pasadenans Organizing for Progress or POP!), Rick Cole (former mayor of Pasadena, also with POP!) and Margaret Muñoz (Abundant Housing). You’ll  also experience powerful videos, inspiring testimonies, live music, refreshments and more. Please join us for these joyous celebration of how God is at work in our community, ensuring that everyone has a decent and affordable home.  (For the sake of everyone’s health, we request that you are vaccinated and you will need to mask up indoors.)


JOB OPENING: Community-based organizer for the North Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative

15 Oct

Background: The North Fair Oaks Empowerment Initiative was founded by African American pastors, elders and leaders committed to restoring a once thriving African American business district. The target area is a divested and neglected corridor of Pasadena, from Washington Ave. to Woodbury Rd on N. Fair Oaks Ave. The goal is to beautify and not gentrify, to provide opportunity to address displacement with opportunity for those displaced to return with the use of underutilized church land for affordable housing. Beauty is being addressed with a potential street redesign (Complete Streets) in partnership with the city of Pasadena to slow traffic and create safely. Learn more here:
Job Summary:
The initial role of a community-based organizer will be to finalize a survey that was sent to the residents on N. Fair Oaks, Raymond and N. El Sereno and the side streets between Woodbury and Washington asking for their input on the Complete Streets concept (including more cross walks, trees, signage, etc.) for this N. Fair Oaks corridor. The goal is to obtain enough support so that the City will invest in accomplishing it. This redistribution and allocation of resources addresses longtime racial and economic injustice.
Duties and Responsibilities:
Together with and under the supervision, training, and direction of N. Fair Oaks Empowerment Team and MHCH staff (Team) the joy will involve:
1. Being in the community to obtain letters of support from businesses, churches and nonprofits and possibly ask for signatures for the rent control campaign.
2. See to develop a team of from those who have returned surveys.
3. Facilitate online meetings in coordination with two city departments.
4. Gather the results of the survey and public meetings and present them to the city with the Team.
To apply:
1. Obtain the full job description, from
2. If you feel you are qualified and feel led to apply, send a cover letter detailing your interest, your resume and contact information for three references.
Hours and pay: 10-15 hours a week, @ $20 an hour for six months with the potential of longer term employment and more hours.
Start date: ASAP

MHCH Housing Justice Forum October 2021

12 Oct


JOIN US FOR OUR MONTHLY MHCH HOUSING JUSTICE FORUM ON NEW STATE BILLS THAT WILL IMPACT AFFORDABLE HOUSING. Governor Gavin Newsome just signed 31 bills relating to homelessness and affordable housing that will have a major impact on our state’s housing crisis. The California Comeback Plan invests an unprecedented $22 billion in housing and homelessness and also enacts significant zone changes, such as SB 9, which will permit duplexes and fourplexes on single family lots. Another bill provides $100 million to low-income homeowners to help them build ADUs.  Our forum will look at how these and other bills will address the urgent need for affordable housing in local communities like Pasadena.

Presenters include Anthony Dedousis, Director of Policy and Research for Abundant Housing LA, working to help solve Southern California’s housing crisis; and Andrew Slocum, founder and principal of Green Development Co., a full-service development and consulting firm involved in all phases of the development process within single-family, multi-family, and affordable housing.

When: Oct 26, 2021 7:00 PM Pacific Time

Register in advance for this meeting:

Presenters include Anthony Dedousis, Director of Policy and Research for Abundant Housing LA, working to help solve Southern California’s housing crisis; and Andrew Slocum, founder and principal of Green Development Co., a full-service development and consulting firm involved in all phases of the development process within single-family, multi-family, and affordable housing.

Eviction Moratorium: How to Help Tenants…

16 Aug


Housing Justice Forum August Eviction Moratorium Wix

Click here to download flyer: Housing Justice Forum August Eviction Moratorium Final

To register in advance for this meeting:

Letter from Sonja Berndt on Best Use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds

13 Aug

August 13, 2021

Re:  City Council Meeting 8/16/2021 – Agenda Item #18:  Staff Recommendations for American Rescue Plan Act Appropriations

Dear Mayor Gordo and Members of the Pasadena City Council:

  1. Introduction

Our City has received a lifeline from the federal government in extraordinary funds pursuant to the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) — $26 million this year and $26 million next year.  Last June 14th, the Council requested staff to come back with a comprehensive scheme for expending these funds.  Mayor Gordo requested a “workshop-type” meeting so that the Council and the public could have input on proposed uses of these funds.

The staff report setting forth staff’s recommendations for expending the remaining $25 million was made publicly available late yesterday, 4 days before the Council would discuss these imprudent and inequitable recommendations.  Respectfully, this does not give most community members sufficient time to review and analyze the report before Monday’s meeting.  Moreover, allowing 2-3 minutes for community members to provide input is not a fair opportunity to be heard on how these funds should be spent to lift up the marginalized in our community and those who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID pandemic.    

At the June 14th meeting, many community members submitted correspondence and public comments recommending that the Council use the ARPA funds in an impactful way to bring about positive change such as funding effective, evidence-based, affordable, Public Health programs like Advance Peace and CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets).  The ARPA highly encourages the use of funds in this manner, which promotes racial and socioeconomic equity.

Please reject the staff recommendations discussed below and direct staff to conduct a community forum so that the public and experts can weigh in on how the City can best use these funds to help our residents and to promote community equity.

  1. Background – Eligible Uses of ARPA Funds

The Interim Final Rule (“IFR”) is the Treasury Department’s guidance for allocating the ARPA funding provided to state and local governments.  It discusses numerous eligible uses for the ARPA funds, many of which would provide critical programs that our most vulnerable and marginalized residents need to move forward from the pandemic.  The ARPA funds must be spent within the four eligible uses identified in the statute—”(1) to respond to the public health emergency and its negative economic impacts, (2) to provide premium pay to essential workers, (3) to provide government services to the extent of eligible governments’ revenue losses, and (4) to make necessary water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure investments.”  (IFR, pp. 78-79.)  Significantly, at the outset, the IFR states that “[t]he ARPA provides a substantial infusion of resources to meet pandemic response needs and rebuild a stronger, more equitable economy as the country recovers.”  (IFR, p. 8, emphasis added.)

ARPA funds may be used to respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including for one or more of the following purposes:

  1. COVID-19 Response and Prevention

Funds may be used for “COVID-19 related expenses in congregate living facilities, including skilled nursing facilities, long-term care facilities, incarceration settings, homeless shelters, residential foster care facilities . . . and other group living facilities.”  (IFR, p. 138, see also p. 18.)  The funds may also be used for COVID-19 related mental health treatment and other behavioral services. (IFR, p. 140.)

  1. Assistance to Households

Assistance to households facing negative economic impacts due to COVID-19 is also an eligible use. This includes food assistance; rent or mortgage assistance; legal aid to prevent eviction or homelessness; cash assistance; and job training.  (IFR, p. 33.)

  1. Uses to Address Disproportionately Impacted Communities

The IFR goes into great detail about the disproportionate public health and economic impacts of the pandemic on communities disadvantaged before it began.  “Low-income communities, people of color, and Tribal communities have faced higher rates of infection, hospitalization, and death, as well as higher rates of unemployment and lack of basic necessities like food and housing.”  (IFR, p. 5.)  To address these impacts and the role of pre-existing social vulnerabilities in driving these disparate outcomes, the IFR “identifies a broader range of services and programs that will be presumed to be responding to the public health emergency when provided in a Qualified Census Tract (QCT) [or] to families living in QCTs. . . .” [1] (IFR, pp. 21-22.)  These include:

(i) Programs or services that facilitate access to health and social services such as assistance applying for public benefits; housing services to support healthy living environments conducive to mental and physical wellness; and “evidence-based community violence intervention programs to prevent violence and mitigate the increase in violence during the pandemic.”  (IFR, pp. 22-23, 141-142.)

(ii) Programs or services that address housing insecurity, lack of affordable housing, or homelessness where the economic impacts of COVID-19 have likely been most acute, such as supportive housing or other programs or services to improve access to stable, affordable housing among individuals who are homeless; development of affordable housing to increase supply of affordable and high-quality living units; and housing vouchers, residential counseling or housing navigation assistance.  (IFR, pp. 39, 142.)

(iii) Programs or services that address or mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on education, such as new or expanded early learning services; assistance to high-poverty school districts to advance equitable funding across districts and geographies; and educational and evidence-based services to address the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students.  (IFR, p. 142.)

(iv) Programs or services that address or mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on childhood health or welfare, such as new or expanded childcare; programs to provide home visits by health professionals and social service professionals to individuals with young children to provide education and assistance for economic support, health needs, or child development; and services for child welfare-involved families and foster youth to provide support and education on child development, positive parenting, coping skills, or recovery for mental health and substance use.  (IFR, pp. 142-143.)

III.     Staff’s Imprudent and Inequitable Recommendations for Expending the                  Remaining $25 million in ARPA Funds Received this Year

  1. $9.8 Million to the General Fund

Staff recommends that the General Fund receive a huge portion of ARPA funds to “backfill revenue losses, maintain essential services, and eliminate the projected operating deficit for FY22.”  (Staff Report, p. 3.)  Since our Housing Department receives miniscule General Fund appropriations ($1.475 million for FY 2022) and our Public Health Department receives none, our vulnerable and marginalized communities will see little benefit from this recommended appropriation.

Sections 602(c)(1)(C) and 603(c)(1)(C) of the ARPA does allow local government to use ARPA funds to provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue experienced due to COVID-19 and to avoid cuts in government services.  (IFR, pp. 51-53.)  “These budget shortfalls are particularly problematic in the current environment, as State, local, and Tribal governments work to mitigate and contain the COVID-19 pandemic and help citizens weather the economic downturn.”  (IFR, p. 52, emphasis added.)  Such “government services” include critical infrastructure, health services, education services and public safety programs.  There is a detailed 10-page explanation of this eligible use in the IFR, but there is no discussion included in the staff report.  Staff should be directed to explain how this huge reimbursement is “helping citizens weather the economic downturn.”

Moreover, while staff says this General Fund appropriation is to “maintain essential services” and staff predicts a FY22 operating loss of $9.77 million, staff clearly needs to explain the references in Attachment A that the FY22 forecast includes over $21 million in “Debt Service,” $10 million of which is a “contribution to RBOC to cover Debt Service and Amerifest.”  This is because “expenses associated with obligations under instruments evidencing financial indebtedness for borrowed money would not be considered the provision of government services, as these financing expenses do not directly provide services or aid to citizens.  Specifically, government services would not include interest or principal on any outstanding debt instrument. . . .”  (IFR, p. 60, emphasis added.)  Unless staff can adequately explain how this recommendation qualifies as an eligible use under the IFR, and how it can include $21 million in “debt service” to justify recommending this appropriation as an eligible use, it does not appear to be an eligible use.

  1. $8.539 Million to the Capital Improvement Program Budget

Staff recommends another huge appropriation of the ARPA funds for sidewalk improvements, bridge enhancements, traffic signals, etc.  Are these enhancements and improvements necessary at a time when we are still suffering the economic effects of the pandemic?  We are left to speculate because there is no discussion in the staff report about the urgency of any of these improvements.

Further, are these improvements more important than sheltering our nearly 300 unsheltered persons or providing assistance to housing-insecure persons?  Instead, the City should create more interim housing and supportive housing and services for our unhoused, more affordable housing for our low-income residents, and more community programs that address health and mental health issues and violence prevention, particularly in our underserved communities.

  1. $2.4 million to Remodel Fire Station #38 and for Seismic Upgrade of       Fire Station 37

With regard to staff’s recommendation to appropriate $400,000 of the ARPA funds for seismic work for Fire Station 37, this may be reasonable provided staff demonstrates that this work is urgent and cannot be included in the $1.5 million already budgeted for this fire station’s improvements.

As for the $2 million appropriation to remodel Fire Station 38, staff asserts the improvements (remodeling the kitchen and dining and living areas, etc.) are “necessary to maintain operational standards of the facility,” but provides no showing to support that assertion.  This Council has already approved $1 million for FY22 to remodel the Police Department building to provide “an open floor plan,” furniture, etc.  This continuing effort to prioritize buildings over people even during a pandemic needs to stop.  We have nearly 300 unsheltered persons experiencing homelessness and thousands who are housing insecure who are more deserving of assistance.

  1. $550,000 to Support the Second Pasadena Outreach Response Team           (“PORT”) in FY23 and FY24

Recently, the Council approved using some of the Police Department’s excess operating budget funds to create a second PORT.  Staff now recommends using $550,000 of the ARPA funds to support the second PORT for FY 23 and FY24.  Staff needs to explain to Council and the public: “What is the rush?”  According to a PORT PowerPoint produced in response to my Public Records Act request to the Public Health Department, in addition to case management, “PORT 2” will respond to calls for service in place of an armed police officer.  For many months, the community has asked the City to explore a mobile crisis intervention unit like CAHOOTS that would be available 24-7 to handle non-life-threatening calls for service for persons experiencing a mental health or substance use disorder crisis.  PORT clearly is not that, as its work hours are Monday through Thursday and every other Friday 8-5 pm.

While PORT does good outreach work with persons experiencing homelessness in our City, there has never been a discussion of the best and most cost-efficient way to respond to situations involving persons suffering from a mental illness or a substance use disorder crisis.[2]  I do not oppose funding a second PORT unit, but not at the expense of creating a CAHOOTS-model, 24-7 crisis response in our City.  Funding must be included for a 24-7 response for all non-life-threatening situations involving persons suffering from a mental illness and/or substance use disorder crisis.  Because (1) there has been no discussion of a CAHOOTS-model program, (2) there is no explanation of any urgency for this appropriation for FY23 and FY24, and (3) there are much greater needs for immediate action to fund programs for our unhoused, housing insecure and persons disproportionately affected by policing this recommendation should be rejected.

  1. $630,000 to the Housing Department’s FY22 Operating Budget

The $400,000 appropriation staff recommends for bridge housing for PCC students is far too small to address the need of our nearly 300 unsheltered residents.  Moreover, per the 2020 Homeless Count, 87% of our homeless population was age 25 and over, older than most PCC students.  While I support the $400,000 if needed to provide services to PCC students, that has to be a starting point.  The City needs to become serious about meeting the urgent unmet needs of our unhoused residents.

As for the recommendation of $150,000 “to fund additional eviction prevention legal services,” I do not oppose that recommendation, but request the Council to inquire of staff how it arrived at that figure and if that will be sufficient to provide legal services for all who will need them.

The $80,000 recommended appropriation for the addition of a second HOPE Team case manager from Union Station is problematic.  Many community members have already vociferously argued for a crisis intervention response that does not include a uniformed officer for non-life-threatening situations.  This would avoid needless altercations involving persons suffering from mental illness and a waste of taxpayer funds resulting from arresting these persons for assaulting a police officer who should not have been deployed in the first place.  Community members were promised that CAHOOTS would be agendized at the Public Safety Committee and are still waiting.[3]  This recommendation should be rejected until CAHOOTS is agendized, discussed, and the public and experts have a chance to weigh in on what is the most beneficial and cost-effective crisis intervention model for our persons suffering from mental illness and/or a substance use disorder.

  1. $200,000 to Support Continued Efforts to Reduce Community Violence

Staff recommends a $200,000 appropriation to the General Fund, City Manager’s Office budget, to support continued efforts to prevent/reduce community violence.  Ricky Pickens and his associates gave a PowerPoint presentation to the Public Safety Committee on July 21st.  The program appears to be a good investment in the community.  But the $200,000 appropriation seems to be far short of what is needed to sustain this program.  Staff should be directed to provide a detailed explanation of the funds needed to make a significant community impact for a sustained period of time.

  1. Conclusion

For all of the stated reasons, the staff’s recommendations discussed herein should be rejected.  Staff should be directed to conduct a community forum so that experts and the public can provide input on how the City can best use these funds to assist our residents and to promote community equity.  Thank you.


Sonja K. Berndt, Esq. (retired)

[1] Recipients may also provide these services to other populations/geographic areas disproportionately impacted by the pandemic if they can show that the pandemic resulted in disproportionate public health or economic outcomes to the specific populations/geographic areas to be served.  (IFR, p. 22.)

[2] In the PORT PowerPoint, costs for PORT #1 are listed as over $314,000 (for an undefined period), so it is not clear that the $275,000 per year appropriation staff requests would be sufficient to cover PORT 2’s expenses.

[3] On June 7, 2021, the Council promised the community that a CAHOOTS-model crisis intervention response for our City would be agendized in the Public Safety Committee.  Mayor Gordo has not done that.  Even PPD Commander Clawson has said that CAHOOTS for our City should be discussed.

Join our summer campaign for rezoning religious land for affordable housing

5 Aug

Making Housing and Community Happen is committed to helping churches and religious institution to have affordable housing built on their underutilized land, but most can’t do so because of zoning issues.  This summer  we were able to get  57 letters on this topic  sent to the City Council; our goal is 100 by the end of August. Please use the template and talking points below to write to the City Council.

Please use  this email to ensure that your comments become part of the public record:,

You can also add these emails to make sure that City Council members see your comments:,,,,,,,

Talking points

Please consider using one of the following talking points when you write to the City Council or speak up. Be sure to preface your remarks by mentioning your name, district (or City Council member) and something about yourself, such as how long you’ve lived in Pasadena, your religious affiliation, or some story about the need for affordable housing that inspires you to speak or write. Remember to keep your remarks to 250 words or 1.5 minutes. It’s also a good idea to thank the Council for the good work they’ve done around affordable housing, but remind that much more needs to be done.

Dear Mayor Gordo and City Council members,

My name is ________________ and I am a member of _______________________________.  (your church, club, or neighborhood association, etc.. If you know your district or Congressmember, include that info. ) I urge you to support a city-wide zoning change that would make it feasible as well as possible for congregations to have affordable housing built on their underutilized land.

Talking point #1: I want to thank the Council for all you’ve done to create affordable housing in the City, but we clearly have not come close to meeting our RHNA goals or the vision of our City to provide “decent, safe and affordable housing  for every Pasadena resident” As you know, the City is required by the state to plan for nearly 6,000 units of affordable housing over the next eight years. This goal may seem impossibly high, but the need for affordable housing is critical. That’s why I feel that that rezoning religious land for affordable housing is a great idea that has been needlessly delayed and should be put back on the agenda and approved as soon as possible. It should also be in the Housing Element as long this doesn’t delay its implementation. A handful of churches across Pasadena are stepping up to offer their land for affordable housing, but they need the zoning to be changed so they can accomplish their vision. This zoning change will speed up the process of building the housing we need and will make the process considerably less expensive, making affordable housing dollars stretch further.

Talking point # 2: Why is this only for religious congregations? Affordable housing should be encouraged throughout the City, and congregations provide a unique opportunity for that to happen. This is a match made in heaven because their land is often vacant most of the week, with deferred maintenance on buildings they can’t afford to fix and facilities often built for congregations much larger than what they have today. Furthermore, congregations, the longtime social “glue” for our neighborhoods, have a vested interest in continuing to serve the community. Downsizing and/or gaining a little extra income helps them stay vital, playing a significant role in our community. Historically, religious groups have built hospitals, schools and retirement communities, it is natural for them today to supply housing for the community.
Talking point #3: Why is it important to allow affordable housing “by-right”? “By-right” means that a property owner has a right to build on their land. In this case, our proposal would give religious congregations the right to build housing that is at least 50% affordable at a contextually appropriate height and density. This matters because quality affordable housing developers know that applying for a discretionary approval in Pasadena takes at least one year, costs at least $100,000 in consultant and City fees, and may ultimately be denied. They are hence reluctant to partner with congregations lacking appropriate zoning. By-right affordable housing projects still require engagement with the community to improve the design, parking, etc., but the congregation’s right to build affordable housing would not be challenged.
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