Mayor Calls for Special Council Study Session on Homelessness

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Mayor Robert Garcia - Photo from Facebook

Mayor Robert Garcia – Photo from Facebook

Mayor Robert Garcia has called a special study session for the City Council to discuss homelessness in Long Beach for October 4, asking city staff to update the Council on the current state of homelessness in the city, and to provide a review of progress since the adoption of “5 key community strategies” in 2010. The Mayor will also ask staff to review the last 10 year plan on homelessness and discuss its successes and areas where the city fell short.

The Mayor has expressed his intention to work closely with the Homeless Services Advisory Commission, City Staff and its continuum of care partners, as well as community groups like Friends of Lincoln Park, the DLBA, and many faith-based service organizations.

The Mayor will ask the City Council to work with the community to adopt a new Homelessness Plan for Long Beach.
“Homelessness has been increasing throughout the state and the region,” said Garcia. “Long Beach has been a leader in supporting homeless residents and providing housing opportunities, and as development in downtown Long Beach continues to expand, we need to redouble our efforts with an inclusive approach that involves the whole community in finding solutions.”

The most recent count of homeless residents in Long Beach, completed in January 2015, showed an 18% decrease in homelessness over two years. However, with a documented increase in homelessness regionally, the closing of many encampments on the L.A. River, and reports of increased homelessness in several Long Beach neighborhoods, there is a need to refocus and realign citywide strategies.

“This study session is a great next step in truly understanding the complex issues around homelessness and its impact on the City of Long Beach ” said Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez of the First District, which includes much of downtown. “It is critical that we focus on the facts, dispel some of the myths and create an action plan to move our City and our residents forward.”

Second District Councilmember Jeannine Pearce also shared concerns: “I am reminded daily of the struggles that so many Americans face as I ride through the district or walk through Lincoln Park,” she said. “But I am thankful for the committed community members who are already doing great work to ensure that people have access to shelter and services. I know we can do more and that our efforts in the city will result with positive outcomes for Long Beach’s homeless population.”

“Homelessness is a major challenge for the city and our coastal beaches and marinas,” said Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price, “I’m looking forward to a thorough community process that includes a strong role for the Homeless Services Advisory Commission.”

In 2010, the City Council adopted “5 Key Community Strategies” to combat homelessness, which were to increase affordable housing, promote economic stability, provide support services to prevent homelessness, expand participation to all sectors of the community, and use a data and research driven approach. The study session will review the implementation of these strategies and their current status. It will also provide a chance for the Council to ask questions of city staff, and for the community to give input to the Council.

In the past year, Long Beach has provided shelter to 1,738 individuals. Last year, the City reached its goal of eliminating chronic veteran homelessness. The proposed budget also includes a staff position dedicated to exploring innovation and sustainable approaches to improve homeless services in Long Beach.

In July, the City Council joined several other entities in calling on the State of California to declare a State of Emergency on homelessness.

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