Long Beach, News

Mayor Rex Richardson provides new data on homelessness

By: Cheyenne Elizarraras and Arturo Flores

On Tuesday, Long Beach City Mayor Rex Richardson held a live update regarding the city’s recent actions to the homelessness crisis.

According to the city’s annual count conducted in February, Long Beach’s homeless population grew 62% from 2020 to 2022.

The city held a donation drive-thru on March 18, collecting items such as hygiene kits and clothes, to support people experiencing homelessness. More donation bins will be outside every Long Beach public library and the city’s Multi-Service Center (MSC) located at 1301 W. 12th St.

In addition to donations, the city has parking lots designated for people sheltering in their vehicles. With only 15 parking spots at the previous MSC lot, Long Beach Homeless Services expanded its safe parking program to an additional lot on Queensway with 50 parking spots.

“The Queensway location was selected because it was an underutilized space at the time,” said Homeless Bureau Service manager Paul Duncan. “It provides some privacy for program participants, there’s not a whole lot surrounding that parking lot and it won’t impact the activities that are in the area such as the Queen Mary.”

The MSC is continuing to look for additional sites to accommodate more people as well as people with RVs. These safe parking sites provide a safe area for people sheltering in their vehicles with amenities including pet relief stations, restrooms, hand washing stations and two security guards.

“These people often face discrimination and stigmas, so offering services in a space that provides dignity and respect is important to help them get back towards getting into permanent housing,” said Duncan.

People who are interested in joining the program must receive a referral or be referred by a homeless service team member or MSC worker.

A homelessness data dashboard was launched last week including data collected by the city’s Health and Human Services Department since 2018. This includes demographic information about the homeless population such as race, ethnicity, age, and gender.

According to the dashboard, about 3500 people enrolled in permanent housing programs since 2018. Of those, 2,204 have graduated to housing self-sufficiency.

“The data shows you the outreach is working. When we find people out there in the encampments, 53% of them are accepting some degree of service,” said Mayor Rex Richardson.

In addition to the safe parking lots and Project Homekey homeless shelters, the MSC opened warming centers for those to shelter in during the colder days and nights.

“We’ve been opening up the MSC for warming beds whenever it’s raining or under 45 degrees. It’s going well, we’re seeing good utilization,” said Duncan. “It’s been challenging at moments, but well worth it to get people off the street and into a good environment.”

​The city will be hosting live updates every Tuesday at 11 a.m. Those interested in participating in the program can find more information here.

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