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Long Beach Sees A Year-Over-Year Increase in Population Experiencing Homelessness

Release Date: 2020-06-12

Long Beach, CA - The findings of the 2020 Point-in-Time Homeless Count (Count) reveal that Long Beach identified 2,034 people experiencing homelessness in January 2020, compared with 1,894 people in 2019. While this number signifies a 7% increase from last year, the City’s homeless population remains 29% below the 2013 count.

Despite the overall population of persons experiencing homelessness increasing, there was a 42% reduction in veterans experiencing homelessness, reflecting a concerted coordination between the City of Long Beach, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other partnering agencies to find permanent housing for veterans.

“Homelessness was a human crisis before COVID-19 and it remains one today,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “Now more than ever we need to partner with our local and regional partners to continue finding ways to provide permanent housing solutions for those in need.”

The City continues to work diligently to tackle the issue of homelessness. The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department) leads a multi-pronged approach to continue expanding capacity and enhancing service delivery to those most in need, together with many other City departments, including the Police and Fire Departments, Public Works, Development Services, the Library and Parks, Recreation and Marine and the City Attorney’s Office to continue expanding capacity and enhance service delivery to those most in need. Additionally, Long Beach is one of only three cities in Los Angeles County to operate its own Continuum of Care, a local planning body funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that coordinates housing and services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

The City’s Multi-Service Center acts as the central hub for serving those who are at-risk of or experiencing homelessness. The facility serves almost 13,000 client visits every year. Additionally, the Long Beach Police Department helps individuals connect with services via the specially trained officers in its Quality of Life Unit, and in 2016, the Long Beach Fire Department’s Homeless Education and Response Team (HEART) was established to provide emergency medical services to persons experiencing homelessness.

In January 2019, the City announced plans for a new three-acre campus in North Long Beach, including a year-round shelter with 125 beds and supportive services. The project is expected for completion this summer. The City has also remained committed to the development of several permanent, affordable housing projects focused on serving very low-income residents and households at-risk of or experiencing homelessness, including The Spark at Midtown (1900 Long Beach Blvd.), featuring 95 affordable housing units; Vistas del Pueblo (1836-1852 Locust Ave.), featuring 48 affordable housing units; and Bloom at Magnolia (1770 Magnolia Ave.), featuring 40 affordable housing units.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has operated four temporary shelters offering a variety of necessities and services, including medical and mental health assessments and resources, and transportation for essential errands such as medical appointments, pharmacy and laundromats. There are nearly 250 guests currently residing at the City’s shelters, which are providing a safe place for those most in need during this unprecedented public health crisis. The City has also instituted a number of new measures to protect persons experiencing homelessness from COVID-19, including installing soap dispensers, handwashing stations or hand sanitizer stations at strategic locations throughout the city, distributing sanitation kits, and conducting outreach in the community.

To further tackle the issue of homelessness, the City negotiated an allocation of Measure H funding to support prevention and rapid rehousing efforts for single adults, as well as funding support for the Coordinated Entry System and Outreach Response. The Housing Authority also supports these efforts with a direct allocation of approximately $865,000 for the Homeless Incentive Program, also funded through Measure H. Additionally, the Housing Choice Voucher Program provides close to $1.3 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funding through set-aside vouchers to house 105 households who are experiencing homelessness annually. This funding support has been critical to supporting local efforts to minimize entry into the homeless services system, and shortening the length of homelessness for those who have already been displaced.

In comparison to 2019, the 2020 Count found a 27% decrease in the sheltered population, and an increase in the unsheltered population by 24%. This reduction is driven by the limited availability of crisis shelter funds that support motel vouchers for households experiencing homelessness. This year, 532 people refused to be surveyed compared to 395 last year, a 29.6% difference.

The 2020 Count was conducted on January 23, with the help of about 200 volunteers led by experienced guides. Volunteers were required to attend an orientation providing training for a paper survey and the electronic mobile count application. This pilot mobile application gathered survey responses and real time map tracking of the deployed teams and geo-location of survey locations. In practice, the City found the app streamlined the count process and the data collected will inform outreach efforts.

For information about shelter operations, call (562) 570-9328. Learn more about the City’s homeless services.

About the City of Long Beach
Home to approximately 470,000 people, the multiple award-winning and innovative City of Long Beach offers all the world-class amenities of a large metropolitan city while maintaining a strong sense of individual and diverse neighborhoods nestled together along the California coast. As a full-service charter city, Long Beach is home to the Queen Mary, Aquarium of the Pacific, several museums and theaters, a highly-rated school district, Long Beach Airport, the Port of Long Beach, as well as many award-winning City departments such as Health, Parks, Recreation and Marine, Development Services and more. The City also has a highly-respected university and city college, two historic ranchos, five hospitals, five golf courses, 171 parks, miles of beaches, marinas, bike paths, and a Bike Share program.

For more information about the City of Long Beach, visit http://longbeach.gov/. Follow us on social to keep up with the latest news: FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

For the latest information on COVID-19, with details on all that the City of Long Beach is doing to keep its residents safe, visit: longbeach.gov/COVID19 and follow @LongBeachCity on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.