Long Beach Winter Shelter options reach crisis level as storms approach

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winter-shelterAfter hearing that the Winter Shelter may not open this year in the City of Long Beach, Sixth District Councilman Dee Andrews got to work. With a speed rarely seen in bureaucracy, the council member coordinated with city staff to secure a new location for the much-needed shelter.

“There is no reason for anyone in our city to be without shelter, especially in the cold winter months”, said Andrews.

For the past 3 years, the Winter Shelter has been located at an empty warehouse on the border of Long Beach and Signal Hill. However, this year the location was rented before the Long Beach Rescue Mission, the organization that runs the shelter, could secure it.

Tonight, the City Council is expected to adopt a resolution “declaring a shelter crisis.” The resolution will allow a new shelter site on the 1400 block of Lewis Avenue, to open faster by bypassing some zoning and administrative codes. The new Winter Shelter will still have to meet safety requirements.

A former bomb shelter, the emergency shelter will have enough room for 200 beds. However, the space lacks personal sanitation facilities such as showers and will need to use portable toilets.

The emergency shelter is part of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Winter Shelter Program which runs annually from December 1 through March 15. The program will provide 1,650 emergency shelter beds at 14 locations throughout the county this season, as well as meals and access to services and supportive housing.

The LAHSA partners with local service providers like the Long Beach Rescue Mission to administer the day-to-day operations of each program. LB’s Department of Health and Human Services will pay the rent for the shelter up front — $7,000 per month — but will be reimbursed for the costs.

The Long Beach City Council will finalize the Shelter resolution at a special meeting tonight at 6:00 p.m. Too late for yesterday’s rain, but still in time to help the homeless on the streets before the next storm hits this weekend.

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