New LBC Programs Grapple with Homelessness
By Dianne Anderson
As the city of Long Beach tries to deal with soaring homelessness, new projects are in the works, including safe parking space for those living in cars, an increase in the police department’s Quality of Leadership team, and a call out for new community partnerships, with funding, to serve the unhoused.
On Friday, the city announced overnight parking access, with help for basic needs, restrooms, and connection to services. That effort started last Monday and runs through May 21. The site is located on Queens Way, open from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 a.m.
“People in our community whose only source of shelter is their vehicle have a critical need for a safe space to park overnight,” said Mayor Rex Richardson. “By opening this additional Safe Parking lot, we are more than tripling our capacity and creating new opportunities to connect more people with vital resources and services.”
In his last weekly update, he said the Multi-Service Center is available through the round of rainy cold weather.
“People interested in getting out of the cold, we have 60 warm beds available at the multi-service center. All you need to do is come to the MSC at 6:00 p.m. to access a bed,” he said.
The Department of Health and Human Services Homeless Services also launched its data dashboard and offers a snapshot of the homeless by race, ethnicity, gender, age, or those living in housing programs. Collected by the department, the data lists the homeless helped in case management, enrolled in programs, and success indicators.
In another ongoing project, the community is invited to drop off essential item donations, including hygiene kids, blankets, gift cards to big box stores and grocery stores, nonperishables like canned food, snacks, instant oatmeal and soup. Locations accepting items include the Long Beach Public Library, Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach (3635 Long Beach Blvd), and Scherer Park Community Center, 4654 Pasadena Ave.
And local organizations and companies are called to fill out the city’s Emergency Homelessness Response Community Partnerships Interest Form to learn about available funded and volunteer opportunities.
Mayor Richardson is asking for community input on a new survey hoped to enhance current initiatives, improve public safety and inform city resources, services and response efforts.
Last month, he addressed the critical need to provide a safe place to shelter from the cold.
“From the elements, this past Friday a member a community member who’s experiencing homelessness tragically died due to exposure. This is unacceptable,” he said in his community update.
But other recent ideas to deal with the homeless have fallen flat.
Setting up a homeless shelter at a local park during the extreme weather was strongly opposed. The Mayor said it had good intentions, but he heard the voice of community concerns.
“We thank them for their feedback we know that Silverado Park isn’t going to be the best solution for a temporary shelter and we will not be moving forward with it,” he said in the update.
At the last 2022 Point In Time count, the city’s homeless had increased by 66%, including those in encampments or on the street increased 22% and those living in vehicles spiked by 380%. The survey results show about half, 47%, are first-time homeless.
Yet another point of contention is a proposed Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority “End of the Line” concept to help the homeless access a “hub of hope,” offering showers and resources when they get off the train.
That idea drew opposition earlier this month as community and businesses viewed the service as a homeless magnet, fearing increased crime at their doorstep.
Other city developments include the police department’s hire of four more full-time Quality of Life officers to assist the homeless, bringing the team to eight positions. They report their 9,100 contacts led to almost 400 people in temporary housing, and the team participated in over 1,200 cleanups citywide.
Sylvester “Duke” Givens is regularly down in the gutters and gullies, working with the homeless. With their help and at last count in December, they had cleaned up about 951,000 pounds of trash since he started the project.
Givens, an air force veteran, was glad to hear his nonprofit was specifically mentioned by Mayor Rex Richardson in the State of the City address.
“He needs all the help he can get so I’m looking forward to assist and serve where we can,” he said.
While Givens said he is not a clinician, he’s been out in the community long enough to know the importance of building relationships and that the unhoused can help the unhoused.
One of his recommendations to deal with homelessness is an organized structured approach with strong oversight of double-bed tiny homes in a non-residential area. There, all able-bodied homeless must participate in their community.
It would not be an encampment, but a safe space Food trucks could probably be subsidized with a tax write-off to support local businesses, while they cater to that community. Currently, Care Closet LBC is partnering with Savage Tacos Truck to make sure that the homeless are fed.
In his outreach, the homeless volunteer about three hours a day. He said that some are dealing with long-term issues, including mental health and substance abuse components.
“By doing that, it gives them pride and it gives them hope. Pre-rehabilitation is what I call it,” he said.
Givens, who has received accolades as a Hall of Famer at Long Beach City College for his work in the community, also hopes to potentially bring his Care Closet LBC to assist his alma mater.
Many students couch surf through school, which adds another layer of vulnerability.
“Being an alumnus, I have a heart and a passion for allowing homeless students to get secure so they can focus on education because it’s hard to concentrate when you have no place to lay your head,” he said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom also announced last week that California is preparing to deliver 1,200 small homes to Los Angeles, San Diego County, San Jose and Sacramento, to fully set up and house the unhoused by the state’s National Guard.
“In California, we are using every tool in our toolbox – including the largest-ever deployment of small homes in the state – to move people off the streets and into housing. The crisis of homelessness will never be solved without first solving the crisis of housing – the two issues are inextricably linked,” he said.
Long Beach City College Spokesperson Stacey Today said the college has taken steps in recent years to provide many basic needs for their students, including the unhoused. While LBCC works on long-term housing solutions, the Safe Parking Pilot Program is one initiative that allows students to sleep in their cars for a safe place to park overnight.
LBCC also partnered with nonprofits such as Jovenes and Hope Housing to provide pathways to housing stability to students in need.
“By providing these services, students are able to better focus on their studies and achieve their educational goals without having to worry about where they will sleep at night,” she said.
For more information:
On homeless parking, see
For funded and volunteer opportunities, see the Emergency Homelessness Response Community Partnerships Interest Form at http://bit.ly/3yQMcyC
To participate in the survey, see https://longbeach.gov/homelessness
For the Dashboard, see www.longbeach.gov/homelessnessdashboard,
For LBCC Basic Needs, see https://www.lbcc.edu/basic-needs-program