Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia released this message on Friday evening, April 3, an update on the city’s status amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Yesterday, the City of Long Beach opened our fourth city-operated shelter for people experiencing homelessness. This new temporary shelter is at Martin Luther King Jr. Park (King Park). We now have temporary shelters in North Long Beach, the Westside, and near downtown. And we plan to add more capacity in other parts of the city as soon as possible. This is part of our ongoing efforts to provide additional shelter to those most vulnerable during the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Shelters not only protect people experiencing homelessness, but also help prevent transmission to others. That’s crucial, as Long Beach has now seen our third fatality due to COVID-19 and currently has more than 170 cases. Forty people have recovered.
The King Park facility is one of several temporary shelters to open in the City and will shelter approximately 70 additional people, with appropriate physical distancing space between each bed. The facility will also provide showers, meals, snacks, recreation with physical distancing, and additional social service resources that support long-term housing. Shelter beds will be prioritized for seniors and individuals with underlying health conditions.
The facility will be operated by nonprofit providers, volunteers and City staff. Strict physical distancing is practiced at these shelters and our staff is well-trained to protect themselves and others using universal precautions and proper equipment. Funding for the shelter is being provided by the state’s emergency aid to local governments issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
In order for folks to receive these services, they must visit the Multi-Service Center at 1301 W. 12th St., where they will complete a shelter assessment and mandatory health screening before being shuttled to the shelter location. For more information, please call (562) 570-4500.
As of today, together with our community partners, we have a total of 10 shelters in the city with more than 450 beds between them. We also continue to utilize local motels to provide emergency shelter for those in need. Our Continuum of Care has always been a national model of effective coordination with a breadth and depth of services. That has helped make the process of shifting our service model to deal with the COVID-19 crisis a rapid and efficient one.
Even with these resources available, we are finding there are still many individuals who decline shelter, preferring to continue surviving on the streets. While we cannot force these people to accept shelter, our outreach teams, including the Health Department, Long Beach police officers on the Quality of Life Team and Long Beach firefighters on our HEART Team, as well as social service and mental health professionals, continue to make contact—from a safe distance—with people experiencing homelessness and continue to provide information, hygiene kits, and referrals to services that can help connect folks with shelters.
You can read more about our plan to end homelessness at: bit.ly/everyonehomelbdoc.
The challenges of this time are even harder for those without a home. I’m committed to continuing to do all that we can to help all of our neighbors, and I know that we will get through this together.