By Tim Houchen
March 17, 2020 —
According to the California Department of Housing & Community Development, between 5% and 10% of the 3.5 million Americans that experience homelessness during a year, have common household pets. That figure may even be as high as 24% in some areas.
The fact that many homeless shelters do not permit animals on their property is the cause of many homeless persons with pets to choose not to use homeless shelters and instead they often choose to find shelter in places not meant for human habitation.
Separation due to abandonment of a pet creates major barriers to engaging persons experiencing homelessness giving them less access to other homeless services and for some that have had to abandon their pets say that having to choose between their pets and a bed in a shelter is “emotionally degrading.”
When a pet is surrendered, owners are reunited with their pet only about 15% of the time. About 60% or even more of all animals left in the Animal Shelter System will be put down.
The intent of the Pet Assistance and Support Program (PAS) is to reduce barriers to homeless shelters for individual persons experiencing homelessness by accomodating them and their pets. Some are saying that accomodating pets may bring some persons experiencing homelessness into the shelters that otherwise might remain on the streets.
The funding for PAS was authorized by SB 109 Chapter 16 and allocates approximately $5 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, cities and counties. The program provides for the operational expenses for shelter, food, basic veterinary care, staffing and liability insurance.
State H&CD reports that 49 applications were received by the March 2nd deadline totalling about $9 million so a point system will be used to determine which entities will be awarded between $100,000 and $200,000 in grant funding. The awards for PAS will be announced some time in May 2020.
The operators of eight Orange County homeless shelters applied for PAS funding (see table below).
Pet Assistance and Support Program
|Salvation Army||Anaheim Emergency Shelter (AES)||$176,800|
|Illumination Foundation||La Mesa Shelter||$200,000|
|Illumination Foundation||Fullerton Shelter||$200,000|
|County of Orange||Yale Transitional Center||$175,510|
|Mercy House||Buena Park Navigation Center||$181,704|
|Mercy House||HomeAid Family CareCenter||$169,504|
|Mercy House||Costa Mesa Bridge Shelter||$169,504|
|Mercy House||Bridges at Kraemer||$181, 104|