Donations: Support for Homeless
By Dianne Anderson
Those that have it to give will dig deep in their closets and pantries this weekend in support of the city’s fifth big donation drive-through to help the homeless, and the nonprofits who serve them.
On Saturday, July 29, the drive-through runs from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Main Facilities Center of the city’s health department, where organizers are calling for hygiene kits, backpacks with essential items, including batteries, flashlights, shampoo, clothing, and shoes. They also need instant, dry snacks and canned food items.
“With the extreme heat and harsh UV rays, providing items to help protect people from sun exposure, dehydration and overheating are essential this time of year,’’ said Mayor Rex Richardson in a release. “We encourage people who are able to contribute needed items to do so by participating in this drive thru event or dropping items off at one of our donation boxes.”
The event is located at 2525 Grand Ave. Donations received will be available to the homeless and local partner organizations at the Multi-Service Center for redistribution.
Since February, the community has donated about 15,700 items from four prior events and through drop-off bins located at various locations and public libraries. Over half were redistributed to the homeless through the Multi-Service Center, and to community organizations.
Of the homeless, the city’s 2022 Census data shows that Latinx, who make up 43.9% of the city’s general population, was identified as the highest group experiencing homelessness at 35.2%. Blacks were severely disproportionately represented at 12.1% of the general population, but at 32.4% of homeless. Whites who made up 27.8%, were at 23.1% homelessness.
Paige Pelonis said she is facilitating collaborations, and members of their coalition and nonprofits want to see more energy at the city level to work with existing programs and projects to get help to the homeless.
“Many agencies already distribute hygiene packs, food and clothing on a regular basis, so when the city puts out a message this is what [they] need, the community comes running. The nonprofits say what about us? We’ve been doing that,” said Pelonis, president of the Long Beach Area Coalition for the Homeless.
Coalition members have raised concerns at their meetings about thinking through the process with the city and homeless services team, about how nonprofits that already distribute resources can get better support from the city.
“How can we benefit from the platform that the city has when the city puts out a call? How do nonprofits doing the work and need those resources as well for what they are doing every day — how can we tap into that?” she said.
The Long Beach Homeless Fund, which she said has been available for a long time, is another concern. She said the money is there, and raised all year long.
“There are tons and tons of money sitting in that pot, and a lot of organizations don’t know how to access it. Or, they’ve tried and have been unsuccessful in accessing it and the process is really tedious,” she said.
To deal with barriers, the coalition started its own community fund to operate like a small pass-through to provide micro-grants for members that needed one-time emergency help with costs, like a broken fridge or car problems.
“We were thinking we could distribute that money through the Homeless Fund, and request a reimbursement of our upfront costs. We haven’t been able to do that just yet,” said Pelonis, also founder and president of City HeART, a nonprofit located on the campus at the Villages at Cabrillo.
On any given day, about 1,600 people are living in the 27-acre Cabrillo community with its mix of shelter programs, in-patient substance use programs, permanent supportive and transitional housing, along with affordable housing.
There are also 14 agencies on site, which she said requires a lot of staff and funding for services, but has a high staff turnover rate as the cost of living goes up.
“Funding isn’t limitless, that’s the sticking point,” she said. “Even with affordable housing, people need additional support, whether trained social workers or trained in case management or clinical mental health, people need help.”
The coalition is always talking about solutions, but she doesn’t see it as a one size fits all. Everyone needs more housing, shelters, and development, but without funding to sustain those programs with adjacent services, she said it will not work.
“Funding for development for buildings are usually there, it’s the funding for services that need to go with that so folks transitioning out of living on the street to a shelter or affordable housing have support so they can stay housed,” she said.
She is inviting the community to come out and brainstorm and participate. General registration is not required but is appreciated.
“It helps with the cookie count to make sure we have enough for everybody. It’s open, free and everyone is welcome,” she said.
Meetings are held at Goodwill Headquarters located at 800 W. Pacific Coast Hwy.
Adam Young said Goodwill has a long history of serving those that are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and also offers many other services to help the underserved community get back on their feet.
Young, a career advisor at Goodwill PCH, helps with the job hunt from age 15 and older, with several employment services, including resume building, and interview preparation, all free.
He said those who are outside of the workforce and trying to reenter can sharpen their skills, adding that they also work closely with the city and referrals.
“For whatever reason, [those] that have employment barriers or if they got laid off or something unfortunate happened to them and they are getting back up on their feet supporting them by making a pathway for them to reenter the workforce pursue education and to [continue to] achieve their dreams before they got knocked down,” he said.
To join the Long Beach Homeless Coalition, see
For more information on homeless services and help,
For nonprofits to apply for the Homeless Fund, see https://www.longbeach.gov/health/services/directory/mayors-fund/
For the Dashboard, see www.longbeach.gov/homelessnessdashboard http://www.longbeach.gov/homelessnessdashboard