A Second Small Family Village Just Opened in Baldwin Park – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

BALDWIN PARK — One person came to mind on Saturday, Sept. 24, when State Senator Susan Rubio, D-West Covina, celebrated the opening of a new project designed to help the homeless.

Surrounded by elected officials from across the San Gabriel Valley, Rubio said she couldn’t forget her conversation with a homeless 22-year-old named John.

After living on the streets for about three years, John found a place in a small house, a modular bridge dwelling designed to be a temporary stopover to permanent accommodation.

“He told me that someone had kindly bought him some shoes so he didn’t have to walk around barefoot, but they were stolen,” Rubio said. “This person bought her another pair, but it got stolen again. Think of someone walking barefoot in this heatwave and can’t even keep a pair of shoes on.

On Saturday, Rubio led a group of lawmakers and officials to celebrate the opening of Serenity Homes, the second set of small home villages, and the first specifically for families, in Baldwin Park.

Esperanza Villa, the first such small village in the San Gabriel Valley, consists of 25 small houses and is located at 14173 Garvey Ave. It opened in November 2021. Serenity Homes is just over a mile from the first community, at 13167 Garvey Avenue, on the former site of a Mr. Rooter plumbing business. Tiny House residents are selected with the help of agencies in Baldwin Park and Los Angeles.

“As a long-time resident and former member of Baldwin Park City Council, I couldn’t be more proud of the leadership our city has shown in addressing the issue of homelessness,” Rubio said. “Today’s grand opening is a testament to the creative and compassionate solutions we can deliver when cities come together and work together to solve the homelessness crisis. This $30 million will help the San Gabriel Valley accelerate and expand access to affordable housing that is critical to our region’s future.

Located on city-owned property acquired earlier this year, the site consists of sixteen 144-square-foot Boss Cubez family pods, fully furnished with a curated selection of IKEA furniture and accessories. The furniture store donated nearly $30,000 worth of furniture to the site. Each family module includes a double bed, a twin bunk bed, a six-drawer dresser, a lamp, a mirror, a portable table, shelves and storage, a shoe rack and other conveniences.

Emmanuel J. Estrada, Mayor of Baldwin Park, hosted officials from Arcadia, Azusa, Glendora, La Puente, Monrovia, San Marino, South Pasadena, Temple City, as well as Mt. San Antonio College at Walnut at the opening.

“It’s really remarkable to open a second small family village in a year,” Estrada said. “Serenity Homes will serve as a model for how cities can expand homeless services and better meet the unique needs of homeless families. It is one of the best projects in the region. It shows that we can do this for the most vulnerable in our community.

Serenity Homes, the second set of small home villages, and the first specifically for families, in Baldwin Park. (Courtesy of San Gabriel Valley Regional Housing Trust)

The new village comes just days after the latest homeless count was released, showing that two of the biggest drops in the San Gabriel Valley came from El Monte and Baldwin Park. El Monte had 433 in 2020, but only 230 this year. Baldwin Park reported 556 in 2020, 275 this year. The countywide count was conducted in February and the results were released in early September.

This year, countywide, there were a total of 69,144 people without homes, an increase of 4.1% from the 2020 count conducted in January of the same year, approximately two months before the declaration of the pandemic.

Service Planning Area 3 is largely made up of the San Gabriel Valley. It has 4,661 homeless – not counting Pasadena – an increase of 2%. Of these, 2,618 (56%) are Latino, an increase of 18%, and 1,155 (25%) are white with no change in this percentage.

Pasadena, along with Long Beach and Glendale, does its own count. Pasadena’s total this year was 512, down from 527.

El Monte has participated in the Homekey project during the pandemic – and Baldwin Park recently erected a village of tiny houses.

Serenity Homes, the second set of small home villages, and the first specifically for families, in Baldwin Park. (Courtesy of San Gabriel Valley Regional Housing Trust)

The opening also comes as many officials across the county are considering how to reform the county’s response to the crisis. A county blue ribbon commission was tasked this year to scrutinize the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority before developing recommendations to address what commission supporters, such as county supervisor Kathryn Barger, “malfunction within the Los Angeles homeless services system”.

Barger met with San Gabriel Valley city officials last week during the first quarterly meeting with county officials to discuss the county’s framework for addressing homelessness. She said the new frame has already “defined some important next steps,” such as allocating increased access to Measure H dollars.

The Baldwin Hills project featured on Saturday is intended to provide transitional temporary housing for approximately 90 days to six months before families are placed in permanent housing. Residents will be offered on-site services such as case management and health and mental health services, three meals a day, restrooms, laundry, shower trailers and an on-site computer room to help with homework and vocational training.

Long Beach-based nonprofit City Net will provide staff and 24-hour security.

“It takes courage to implement something like this because it’s not easy, even though it’s best practice,” said Brad Fieldhouse, founder and president of City Net. “(Tiny Houses) are creative, innovative and relatively inexpensive. It really should happen everywhere.

During the ceremony, Rubio, who drafted legislation to create the San Gabriel Valley Regional Housing Trust (SGVRHT) in 2019, presented a $30 million check to the State Budget Secured Funding Trust. 2022-2023. Rubio secured $20 million in the 2021-22 state budget to support the construction of affordable housing estates and homeless housing in the area.

The City of Baldwin Park, the Housing Trust and the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments spearheaded this project.

“We couldn’t be more excited for this day,” said Claremont Mayor Jed Leano, president of SGVRHT. “Being able to celebrate another milestone with the opening of the San Gabriel Valley’s first bridge housing site dedicated to homeless families on the same day as the receipt of this significant $30 million state funding does only make me even more optimistic for the future.”

Project donors included local nurseries, lighting companies, Habitat for Humanity, Kiwanis Club of Baldwin Park, Southwest Carpenters’ My Brother’s Keeper program, Baby 2 Baby, Kaiser Permanente and Waste Management. A group of 20 volunteers from Ikea stores in Covina, Burbank, Carson and Costa Mesa helped build the $30,000 worth of furniture donated by the store.

“It’s about community partnerships,” said IKEA loyalty manager Vanessa Pasillas. “We always work to have a great relationship with our communities, which is part of our values ​​and our mission. It’s a way for us to do it. »

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