Facility for homeless families gets an energy-saving makeover

Historic downtown buildings that house homeless families from Pasadena and Glendale are now showing the planet some love.

On Thursday, Union Station Homeless Services unveiled the eco-friendly renovation of Euclid Villa, funded by a $1.18 million Los Angeles County Community Development Commission grant.

Among other improvements, the 14-unit complex near the Pasadena Convention Center received solar panels, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, new flooring, a garden makeover with drought-tolerant plants and a padded-cork surface for its playground.

Pasadena Water and Power contributed water- and energy-saving appliances for each apartment.

Euclid Villa serves both the Pasadena and Glendale housing agencies and takes an equal number of families from each city.

Since 1999, 117 families — 100 of them led by single moms — have spent between six months and two years at Euclid Villa before obtaining permanent housing, said Union Station Executive Director Marvin Gross. That’s 338 people, 211 of them children, he said.

Kassaundra Escobar, 18, her mother and three younger siblings moved into Euclid Villa on Christmas Eve after spending more than two months at the Ascencia shelter in southwest Glendale.

“It was a real blessing,” said Escobar.

The renovations will improve quality of life for Euclid Villa’s temporary residents, reduce operating costs for Union Station and extend the lifespan of the facility, said Gross.

Euclid Villa consists of two adjoined buildings — a 10,400-square-foot former nursing home built in 1945 and an 8,800-square-foot Colonial Revival home built in 1900 as a school for girls and listed on the National Register for Historic Places.

Pasadena Housing Director Bill Huang and City Councilman Steve Madison recalled that many in the area initially opposed the facility, but Madison said Euclid Villa has quietly built a reputation as one of the city’s best-run social services programs.

With the latest renovations, it’s also easy on the eyes.

“People were saying it was going to ruin the neighborhood. Now it’s the best-looking building on the block,” said Huang.

Centennial Place, an affordable housing complex in the former YMCA building near Pasadena City Hall, has received a $2 million redevelopment agency grant for similar work starting later this year, Huang said.

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