BY REBECCA MULI
LIVING IN PASADENA
My personal awareness of affordable housing began when I was just a child. It was the mid 1990’s and my father, a Kenyan immigrant, was getting his Masters Degree. He began looking for a bigger house for our family of six as opposed to our very small apartment in Pasadena, CA. Unfortunately, a bigger place was too expensive in the city of Pasadena so we had to move to La Habra. After my father received his PH.D in 1998, my father tried to look for affordable housing in Pasadena, since he loved the area, but still no luck. Housing was too expensive so we had to move more east and settled in an inland empire city called Corona, CA. I shared this story with you because it shows that even a hardworking, highly-educated man like my father could not afford housing in the beautiful city I was born in, Pasadena. An issue that was present over two decades ago!
FIGHTING FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Now, as a 26 year old woman, I took it upon myself to advocate for an issue I’ve seen in not only Pasadena but all across Los Angeles County, Affordable Housing. I began volunteering for Abundant Housing LA in May of 2019 in response to my own personal experiences as a kid but also noticing an increase of homeless individuals on the streets of LA every time I would drive by. On Wednesday, May 29th, 2019, I participated in a hearing for affordable housing in Pasadena, CA. I suspected that everyone in the city would support the initiative to support new housing construction, including affordable housing, but I was wrong. Pasadena Heritage were quick to express how the bill could possibly damage historical preservations. Pasadena Heritage chose the status quo over affordable housing for human beings, who are most likely around my age, and who need it. This is the first time in my volunteering experience where I’ve seen such neighborhood resistance to a project that would help other people. Thankfully, the board passed the initiative; however, the community still have the power to appeal the decision (which have caused the housing project to be in limbo for many years now). My experience last Wednesday at Pasadena City Hall showed me one thing. The people who have the true power to pass or not pass affordable housing approvals are the people who live in the neighborhood. I truly hope that one day all communities in Los Angeles County will take the homelessness increase seriously and have compassion and support for any housing that may be presented by the city council members that will provide shelter for the people who really need it.