The City Council discussed a new initiative to tackle homelessness and housing in Long Beach.
During the motion, Kelly Colopy, the Long Beach Director of Health and Human Services, presented the Everyone Home Long Beach Task Force. According to the staff report, EHLB was designed to build on the city’s homeless services, affordable housing efforts, new pathways into housing and to prevent residents from falling into homelessness.
According to Colopy, at least 4,000 people become homeless in Long Beach each year.
“This is the biggest issue and challenge that faces us as a city,” Mayor Robert Garcia said. “There is no bigger issue than the issue of homelessness and is not an issue [that is just] affecting us but is affecting every major city in the state of California.”
Colopy laid out seven goals the task force wants to accomplish, including increasing housing access, reducing homelessness, employing more people, strengthening governance and increased funding.
Other goals include allocating $25 million in ongoing funding for prevention and services for homelessness and $220 million in capital funding.
The chair of EHLB, Long Beach State President Jane Close Conoley, shared her thoughts on the work that can be done with this initiative, but said she knows there are still kinks they have to figure out before implementation.
“One size does not fit all,” Conoley said. “Long Beach is home to several unique populations that are affected by or on the verge of homelessness … these solutions come with a high price tag, but the price tag is much lower than the cost of doing nothing new.”
Colopy mentioned how the taskforce wants to create a springboard for residents which includes:
- Additional funding
- Additional homeless and low-income units
- A behavioral health urgent crisis center
- Beacon Pointe, a permanent housing for veterans
- The Mental Health America Comprehensive Health and Service Center
During public comment, Long Beach resident Karen Reside spoke about her struggles as a homeless individual.
“I was homeless for about five months,” Reside said. “It’s time we have to realize that the homeless are part of our community … it happens to our families, our friends and our neighbors. We all have to help to our neighbors so that we can all be housed because this program of homelessness is not going to go away.”
Garcia said this issue will be the first thing the governor elect will work on in 2019, the first year of the plan. The council members said they hope this plan will be a starting point to guide their work ahead.
“No report or plan is static and exists permanently in one form,” Garcia said. “This will evolve. This will grow. This will change as we add and learn from what’s working and what’s not working.”
The motion carried 8-0 with future plans to revisit the topic in January with further updates to their task force.