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Home / emergency response

Long Beach officials discuss emergency response to homelessness

Long Beach officials gathered Thursday to strategize on how to address the escalating homelessness crisis.

The meeting followed a request by Mayor Rex Richardson and Councilwoman Mary Zendejas that the City Council consider proclaiming a local emergency related to homelessness, officials announced.

City Manager Tom Modica will request the emergency proclamation at the next council meeting on Jan. 10, the city announced last Wednesday.

“We have an incredible group of leaders at the City who are dedicated to uplifting our neighbors in need, which in turn uplifts the entire community,” Richardson said in a statement. “I am heartened by their commitment as we met, and I look forward to continued work with our Councilmembers, other elected officials, City Manager, and the entire City team as we go ‘All In’ to face and resolve the homelessness crisis in our community.”

After Richardson addressed those gathered at the city’s Emergency Operations Center, Modica and members the Department of Health and Human Services and the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Communications Department led a strategic discussion on homelessness that included representatives from all city agencies. Senior staff members spoke on ways to “enhance field-based outreach, engagement, supportive services and housing resources for people experiencing homelessness and maintaining the safety and security of all members of the community,” according to the city’s announcement. Staff members also provided feedback on the Long Beach’s emergency response plan, and additional meetings will be held on an ongoing basis.

“The safety and wellbeing of each of our residents, housed and unhoused, is always at the forefront of our minds, and homelessness is a crisis that touches everyone in one way or another,” Modica said in a statement. “While we have worked hard to address the complex challenges of homelessness, we must – and will – do more.”

These were the key topics of discussion at the meeting, according to the city’s announcement:

— Discussion of Mayor and City Council priorities related to addressing homelessness.

— Reviewing efforts currently underway that can be accelerated to provide assistance sooner.

— Review of the City’s draft emergency response objectives, such as increasing Federal, State, County and regional funding opportunities and access to services, for both Long Beach and to support regional efforts to address homelessness.

— Tools to house more individuals and speed delivery of emergency housing, interim housing solutions and long-term housing construction.

— Strengthening collaborations with local community organizations and local neighboring governments.

— Effectively utilizing timely data to help inform the City’s emergency response.

— Identifying land and property for interim and long-term housing.

— Streamlining City processes to speed up response efforts, among others.

Engaging with resident and businesses is a steady focus of these discussions about strategies and resources to reduce homelessness, officials said.

Last week, Long Beach launched a webpage that provides leads on resources and information for the public on homelessness.

“While the City has worked diligently to address the rise of homelessness, including adding more than 500 shelter beds between 2020 and 2022, expanding outreach and case management services and increasing staffing levels, the persistence of homelessness in Long Beach continues, with an increase of 62% from 2020 to 2022,” according to the city. “An emergency proclamation would allow increased focus, funding and resources for the City’s response efforts and implementation of emergency assistance programs and initiatives. It would also allow the City to mobilize local resources, coordinate interagency response, accelerate procurement of housing units and seek assistance from the State and Federal governments.”

Earlier this month, the Long Beach Winter Shelter opened to provide “shelter, food, safety and services” to 81 people nightly, according to the city. Long Beach and its partners provide a total of 796 shelter beds year-round.

Information about the Winter Shelter is available from the Multi-Service Center at 562-570-4500.

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