About 50 Long Beach residents gathered at the Centro Community Hispanic Association Tuesday evening to hear how city and police officials are addressing the homeless population.
The event was part of a bi-monthly Leadership Forum held by the Long Beach Police Department’s West Division to promote discussion and engagement between residents, business owners and the police, officials said.
On Tuesday, attendees were able to find out just how many people work on getting the homeless back on their feet, including the LBPD’s Quality of Life Unit—which deals specifically with the homeless—the city’s Health and Human Services department and numerous nonprofits.
While more than a dozen various services are provided throughout the city, officers also emphasized the difficulty in actually convincing homeless to accept such help.
“When I go out and I find a homeless person and they say I’m ready for help, I just got a win, because that is half my battle,” said Quality of Life Officer Christopher Roth.
According to Roth, it took just over a year and two months to get a pair of homeless men into permanent housing.
The men had become best friends while living on the streets of Long Beach for many years and were very hesitant about receiving help.
“If somebody took you out of your lifestyle that you live today, how would that go over?” Roth asked the audience.
Eventually, officers were able to convince the men to receive help and were able to set them up with housing using military and social security benefits.
They continued to live together until one of the men died.
According to the city’s Homeless Services Division, the city has seen an 18 percent reduction in homelessness, and a 42 percent reduction in veteran homelessness, according to results from January 2015.
The Multi-Service Center is currently recruiting landlords willing to accept vouchers that house military veterans. Wash cloths for the homeless are also being accepted.
For a list of services provided contact the Department of Health and Human Services at (562) 570-4454.
All photos by Stephanie Rivera.