Long Beach, News

Metro policy reevaluated after Long Beach homeless surge

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s long-standing end-of-line policy has been attributed with contribution to the growing homeless population in Long Beach.

The policy requires all passengers to get off at the last stop, with downtown Long Beach the final destination for Metro’s A Line.

The policy sparked conversation after Long Beach residents argued that it created a pipeline for homeless people from downtown L.A. to downtown Long Beach.

In a Long Beach city council meeting in October, Long Beach resident Joe Hardy said that every night, 50 to 100 people are added to the city’s homeless population.

“They had no intention of departing in Long Beach and are simply forced onto our streets,” Hardy said.

The policy requires that all passengers exit all train cars at the line’s last stop, which is the case for all of the last stops at every Metro train line.

Dave Sotero, Metro communications director, said that trains and buses are cleaned and serviced in its maintenance yards every night in preparation for the next day. This requires all passengers to be cleared of the vehicles.

Because of Metro’s policy, all passengers, including homeless people, are forced onto the streets of downtown Long Beach at the end of the A Line’s route every night.

Councilwoman Suzie Price said in the October city council meeting that the policy affects the entire city of Long Beach.

“People will move from the location where they’re dropped off and traverse the city to try to find a safe place to sleep,” Price said.

Price said the City of Long Beach should not have to take a larger portion of the regional share of the homeless population.

In Long Beach’s 2022 Homeless Count, it was reported that 55% of people became homeless within the city, 78% became homeless within the L.A. County and 90% became homeless overall in California.

Metro Center Station in downtown L.A. is just blocks away from Skid Row, which has one of the largest concentrations of homeless people in the country.

L.A. County’s homeless population grew by 4% from 2020 to 2022 according to the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. Long Beach’s 2022 Homeless Count reported a 61.7% increase in the city’s homeless population.

“Metro regularly sees the impact of homelessness on our system and has taken steps to assist individuals in finding supportive services,” Sotero said.

The Long Beach City Council has asked Metro to reconsider its policy, citing the disproportionate amount of homeless people the city is taking on compared to the rest of the region.

In a company statement, Metro released results from a customer survey, where Metro customers wanted the company to address and reduce the number of homeless individuals on the train.

“Our system is for helping people get around. Our stations and vehicles were not built to be used as shelters,” Metro said in the same statement.

Long Beach resident Jay Mills said blaming Metro for the upsurge in homelessness is unreasonable.

“You could make the argument that, in some way, the last train leaving Long Beach shifts people to downtown L.A. because a lot of these people on the train are not paying attention to the time or where the train will end,” Mills said.

Mills said that while Long Beach is not being targeted by Metro, it is being affected by the company’s policy.

Nancy Downs, who owns several business buildings in downtown Long Beach, said she has seen the financial impact of the homeless surge. Aside from a downturn in sales, Downs said she has been unable to rent out locations in downtown because applicants are too afraid.

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