Joe Colletti, PhD
-Hub for Urban Initiatives-
“Did you become homeless for the first time during the past 12 months?” was a question added to the 2017 homeless count and survey instrument for unsheltered adults and unaccompanied children under age 18 for the City of Pasadena, California, which is the focus of the second part of this brief.
Part I of this brief focused on the same question for the Southern California counties of San Bernardino and Ventura (click here to read it).
The purpose of the aforementioned question was to find out how many unsheltered adults and unaccompanied children under age 18 became homeless for the first time during the 12 months prior to the 2017 homeless counts. The question also aimed at further identifying who the persons were and determining their service needs.
The total number of unsheltered adults who became homeless for the first time during the 12 months prior to the 2017 City of Pasadena homeless count was
- 70 or 20.5% of the 341 unsheltered adults and unaccompanied children under age 18 who were counted as unsheltered.
Each of the 70 persons were asked a serious of other questions that focused on demographic information such as age, ethnicity, disabilities, and veteran status.
Two notable findings stem from questions that were used to identify gender and recent release from jail or prison.
What is Your Gender?
- Nearly half (40%) of persons who became homeless for the first time during the past 12 months were women and nearly one-fourth (23%) of the persons who did not were women.
This suggests that women may make up a larger percent of persons who become homeless in the coming years than in past years. The question—“Did you become homeless for the first time during the past 12 months?”—should be asked during the next few homeless counts to see if there is a trend.
During the Last 12 Months, Were You Released from Jail or Prison After Serving a Court-ordered Sentence?
- Nearly one-third (31%) of persons who became homeless for the first time during the past 12 months were released from a jail or prison after serving a court-ordered sentence during the past 12 months prior to the count and 13% of the persons who did not.
This suggests that a larger percent of persons who become homeless in the coming years may be recently released from jail or prison than in past years. As previously suggested, the question—“Did you become homeless for the first time during the past 12 months?”—should be asked during the next few homeless counts to see if there is a trend.
Other notable findings for the 70 persons include
- Nearly one-third (31.4%) stated that they were a victim of domestic or intimate partner violence.
- Nearly half (47.1%) stated that they had a physical disability.
- Nearly half (42.9%) stated they had no income and only one-fourth (24.2%) had income of $500 or more.
The table below divides the 341 unsheltered persons into two groups—the 70 persons who became homeless for the first time during the 12 months prior to the Pasadena homeless count and the 271 persons who did not—and compares them.
Table 1. Unsheltered persons who became homeless for the first time during the 12 months prior to the homeless count and those who did not.
Became Homeless for the First Time During Past
Become Homeless for the First Time During Past
Under 18 (unaccompanied children)
18 – 24
25 – 39
40 – 49
50 – 61
No Recorded Answer
Domestic Violence (DV):
Ever experienced DV
Hispanic or Latino
Did Not Identify as Female, Male, or Transgender
No Recorded Answer
Jail or Prison:
Released During Past 12 Months
$1 – $250
$251 – $500
$501 – $1,000
No Recorded Answer
African American or Black
American Indian or Alaskan Native
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
Multiple Races or Other
Don’t Know or Refused to Answer
No Recorded Answer
The following information concerns unsheltered persons who became homeless for the first time during the 12 months prior to the homeless count as noted in Table 1
Who Became Homeless for the First Time During the Past 12 Months?
- nearly two-thirds (62.8%) of persons were 40 years of age or older;
- Nearly half (41.4%) of persons were 50 years of age or older.
Conditions and Issues That Likely Contributed to First Time Experience of Homelessness
Table 2 notes that that the following conditions and issues likely contributed to their first time experience of homelessness:
- Nearly half (47.1%) of persons reported a physical disability
- Almost half (40%) of persons reported a chronic health condition;
- More than one-fourth of persons reported a mental health problem.
Service Needs for Those Who Became Homeless for the First Time
Table 2 provides information regarding the service needs of those persons who became homeless for the first time during the 12 months prior to the 2017 homeless count and survey.
Besides Housing, service needs include:
- Health care;
- Mental health services;
- Substance use counseling and treatment.
Became Homeless for the First Time During Past 12 Months
Did NotBecome Homeless for the First Time During Past 12 Months
Disability or Disabling Condition:
Chronic Health Condition
Mental Health Problem
What is noteworthy is that three of the four families that were counted as unsheltered also became homeless for the first time during the 12 months prior to the most recent Pasadena homeless count, according to the head of household for each of the families. One of the families had two children and the other two families had one child each.
Next steps should include implementing a rapid rehousing approach that is being promoted as a best practice. This approach focuses on housing search, temporary rental and utility assistance, and case management and supportive services.
Rapid rehousing assistance helps individuals and families quickly exit homelessness to permanent housing. Rapid re-housing assistance is offered without preconditions (such as employment, income, absence of criminal record, or sobriety), and the resources and services provided are typically tailored to the unique needs of the household.
Rapidly rehousing persons will help prevent chronic homelessness. Instead of persons left languishing on the streets because they were unable to overcome barriers to obtain housing, barriers are removed and the issues that contribute to these barriers are addressed through home-based case management.
Home-based case management focuses on helping households with maintaining their housing by providing a balanced approach that helps individuals receive necessary on-site and off-site supportive service. However, the case manager does not evict households for failure to participate in supportive services; failure to make progress on a service plan; or loss of income or failure to improve income.
For more information about rapid rehousing, click on the following resources:
Urban Initiatives helped design the count and survey instrument for both counties. The instrument included the questions necessary to meet the total population and subpopulation requirements by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Any jurisdictions, such as the counties of San Bernardino and Ventura, that receive annual Continuum of Care (CoC) Program funding, must complete a sheltered count every year and an unsheltered count every other year during the last 10 days of January.
The total population count must include the number of persons counted as sheltered and unsheltered. Subpopulation counts must include the number of persons who were adults with a serious mental illness, adults with a substance use disorder, adults with HIV/AIDS, chronically homeless families, chronically homeless individuals, unaccompanied children under age 18, unaccompanied young adults age 18 – 24, veterans, and victims of domestic violence (optional). A breakdown by gender, ethnicity, and race is also required.