Councilwoman April Verlato says the conversation has begun in Arcadia; the seed has been planted
A small contingent of vocal opponents to the proposed shelter for homeless citizens in Arcadia once again protested outside Councilmember April Verlato’s home this past weekend.
Some of the tiny shelter opponents are now also targeting Foothill Unity Center. The group of opponents want one of the oldest local resource centers to “reduce the homeless services.”
In a series of social media posts over the weekend, opponents expressed opposition to Foothill Unity Center, which is based in Monrovia with a second office in Pasadena. “Resources like Foothill Unity Center which allow homeless to get access to resources make more people want to come to Arcadia. If we want to make Arcadia safer for the children, we need to move these resources out,” one resident posted on social media.
Councilwoman Verlato offered a rebuttal:
“Reducing services at Foothill Unity Center will not make the City of Arcadia Safer. Shelter with job training, case management, housing navigation, counseling, restrooms, showers, [three] meals a day and 24/7 security will. Leaving people to sleep on the streets can lead people to use the streets as a restroom, steal from others for food and water, and self-medicate. Arcadia can do better. Submit your public comment in support of the Tiny Shelter Project today!”
Other Arcadia residents mirrored Verlato’s thinking.
“OMG I cannot believe anyone would want services reduced at Foothill Unity Center. So many local families were served by the Center during the pandemic. They fed the hungry, those who could not go to work because of the pandemic.
I am feeling ashamed of the community I live in. We have the ability to do so much,” a resident wrote.
Betty McWilliams, executive director of Foothill Unity Center, took exception to some of the social media comments:
“If we were to stop providing homeless prevention or stop housing the unhoused the number of homeless on the streets, including Arcadia, would surge even more than what we are seeing now.
“The city of Arcadia has approached this issue in a very thoughtful way by considering the needs of all the people in their community. It is proactive in addressing the homeless issues, providing proven successful solutions, and keeps the impact and visibility to others minimal. This is a huge issue, and it takes us all working together supporting one another to solve. The end result is a stronger and healthier community for all.
“Foothill Unity Center’s mission is to help neighbors in need. We have supported and provided homeless prevention and homeless housing services to Arcadians for 41 years. We serve the whole community, and our resources help built strong and healthy communities for all residents.
“We are helping to mediate the increase in the homeless numbers. If we all work together, we can reverse this rise in our homeless neighbors. Working together this can be a model community for others to follow.”
The staunchest supporter of the proposed project on the City Council is perhaps Verlato who spoke with Beacon Media News Wednesday afternoon:
“The conversation has begun in Arcadia. The seed has been planted. I hope to see those that oppose the Tiny Shelter Project do their homework, attend the community forums and come up with a solution for homelessness.
“Too many of those in opposition think the solution is to pass the responsibility on to someone else. This never really gets to the root cause of homelessness for the individual living on the streets of Arcadia. Busing homeless out of Arcadia, placing them in short-term housing or housing without supportive services just keeps the cycle going. We are playing a game of hot potato with the unhoused. I’m just waiting to see who ends up with all the houseless in the end and then what will they say is the solution.
“No one can accuse me of inaction. I tried. I was told to do something, but not that. We will have to wait to see what the opposition has to offer as a solution.”