Hillsides honored Assemblymember Chris Holden with an advocacy award for his legislative efforts concerning foster care and affordable housing at a ceremony and roundtable discussion held at Hillsides’ headquarters in Pasadena on October 23.
In presenting the award, Hillsides President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph M. Costa noted that in Los Angeles County, there are 58,000 homeless people, and a disproportionate percentage have spent time in foster care. He praised Holden for bringing attention to the homeless crisis and for sponsoring legislation such as Bill AB 2442, which allows housing developers a “density bonus” to build more units than normally allowed if a developer sets aside 10 percent for a population that includes youth formerly in foster care.
“Thank you for being responsive and making things happen,” said Costa, who, under his leadership, has expanded the services Hillsides offers to transition-aged youth by establishing the Peer Resource Center, a one-shop stop for youth in the San Gabriel Valley.
In accepting the award, Holden said, “I am just a vehicle to implement the good work you are doing,” he said referring organizations like Hillsides who transform the lives of individuals and give them brighter futures. He said he will continue to look for a state-wide solution to the affordable housing crunch. Admitting that he often wakes up at 2 am with an “ah-ha” moment, he then turned the discussion to the some 25 participants of the round table to hear their feedback on the problem.
Leading off the discussion were a panel of three with expertise or personal experience about the lack of housing resources for youth: Hillsides employee Victor Pinzon; Jessica Petrass, former Hillsides employee and current program manager at John Burton Advocates for Youth; and Sam Garrison of the real estate developer Caruso Affiliated, who chairs Hillsides’ government affairs and public policy committee. Others in the audience included Rudy Salinas, director of communications and outreach for Housing Works, and Jeanette Mann, who worked with Assemblymember Holden to conceptualize and develop the density bonus concept in Bill AB 2442. By the end of the roundtable, participants left with a renewed passion to continue to champion the rights of former foster youth and to help create more affordable housing for them.
Assemblymember Chris Holden was first elected to the California State Assembly in 2012, and was re-elected in 2014 and 2016. His district stretches from Pasadena in the west to Upland in the east and encompasses many communities where Hillsides offers services and programs.