People who are experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity in Long Beach are being allowed to register to vote for the first time through the Multi-Service Center.
On Wednesday, Oct. 14, the Homeless Services Advisory Committee made a no-cost agreement with Los Angeles County to provide a mobile ballot center. This will give the homeless population of Long Beach an opportunity to participate in this year’s election.
The Multi-Service Center, led by the Long Beach Health Department, provides services such as showers, meals and a recreational park that is tucked near the 710 freeway. The mobile ballot center will be set up for people experiencing homelessness to be able to vote on Oct. 25, outside of the Multi-Service Center in Long Beach.
“It is great news because we never had this here,” said Max Estrada, operations supervisor of the Department of Health and Human Services. “The mobile ballot center all started with an idea and look how big it is now.”
The MSC also hopes that the mobile ballot center will help bring in people who are already registered to vote to cast their ballots. The organization is also allowing newly registered voters who are homeless to use the center’s address as their place of residence.
Joseph Petitt, a criminology and criminal justice graduate of Long Beach State, has been doing outreach inside prisons and service centers like the MSC to encourage people to register to vote for the upcoming election.
Petitt is a policy and program coordinator for the Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership, an organization that serves formerly incarcerated and convicted Angelinos.
“We want newly registered voters to vote educated. That’s why we refer them to LA Free The Vote, so they can get the educational voting materials,” Petitt said.
Petitt also provided the California Voter’s Guide at the center, which highlights propositions that will directly affect the homeless and convicted population like Measure J. If passed, Measure J will allocate $500 million to services like job training, rent assistance and mental health support.
L.P. Simmons, a resident of Long Beach since 1992, has experienced homelessness for two years and is now a registered voter. The mobile ballot center highlights a victory in the city’s effort in providing resources for its residents.
Simmons, who registered as a Democrat, believes this upcoming election is “very important” and plans to use the mobile ballot center on Oct. 25.
According to Data USA, 18.1% of Long Beach residents live below the poverty line, with an average of 13.1% nationwide. Although officials from the organization are not expecting thousands of voters from the homeless community to cast their ballots, there is lingering optimism that a large number of people will utilize the mobile ballot box come Oct. 25.
“Regardless of political opinion, we are waiting for a president to unify the country,” Simmons said. “It’s important to get your voice heard.”