The number of persons experiencing homelessness in Long Beach has decreased by 21 percent compared to two years ago, according to the latest findings from January’s 2017 Biennial Homeless Count released yesterday by city officials.
In 2015, there were 2,345 persons experiencing homelessness, including those unsheltered (1,513) or in emergency shelters (391) or transitional housing (416). This year’s homeless count saw that figure drop to 1,863—including 1,208 unsheltered persons, 354 in emergency shelters and 301 in transitional housing.
The total number of chronically homeless dropped from 927 two years ago to 686 this year—a 26 percent decrease.
"I'm incredibly proud of our staff and community partners who are working every day to house families and individuals experiencing homelessness,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “Our local efforts are producing real results. We have a lot more work to do, but the data shows we are making progress."
Health officials said while citywide homelessness is down, the homeless population has spread out to other parts of the city since 2013—attributing the dispersion to factors such as downtown’s revitalization, including the closure of Lincoln Park, a public space often occupied by many homeless, maintenance efforts along the river corridors and wetland and green space restoration.
“This population shift has led some to believe there is an overall increase in homelessness, when in actuality there are fewer homeless individuals,” officials said in a release. “However, some of the population has shifted to areas outside of traditional concentration areas.”
The largest population affected by homelessness was the 45-54 bracket, making up 28 percent—the same as 2015’s figures. Those under the age of 18 made up 11 percent of the homeless population.
Once again, males made up the majority of the count at 71 percent, or 1,227. Females made up 28 percent of the total at 481, followed by one percent of the population (12) identifying as transgender.
White adults (composed of non-Hispanic persons at 76 percent and Hispanic persons at 24 percent) made up 58 percent of the homeless, followed by 32 percent black of African-American, 4 percent Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander and 2 percent American Indian or Alaska Native. Additionally, 4 percent identified as multiple races or other.
Results did show a 3 percent increase in homeless veterans, showing 318 sheltered and unsheltered veterans in 2017 compared to 308 in 2015.
“We are committed to challenging ourselves to refining our system, expanding partnerships within the community, and continuing our collaborative regional efforts that further support local progress towards closing gaps within our system,” said Kelly Colopy, director of the Department of Health and Human Services, in a statement.
City officials credited the decrease in homelessness to the expansion of permanent housing, new models of outreach and a well-coordinated system of care. They noted the new housing programs for the chronic homeless and veteran populations, increased set-aside Section 8 Vouches and the implementation of a $6 million surge grant of Supportive Services for Veteran’s Families.
The Biennial Homeless Count took place January 26 during which more than 400 community members helped city staff, Continuum of Care partners and fire and police personnel, cover 52 square miles of Long Beach.
This year’s count also piloted Transitional Age Youth special teams, made up of service providers and TAY individuals, to roam areas where youth are known to congregate.
The survey is a requirement for the City to continue to receive U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding which is used to provide a variety of services to the homeless.