The old North Neighborhood Library building is expected to be the site of the city's winter shelter. Photo taken Nov. 29 by Stephanie Rivera.
The city’s winter homeless shelter program will operate out of the site of a former Long Beach library in early December after the Long Beach City Council is expected to approve the use of the new location during Tuesday’s council meeting.
While winter shelters countywide are expected to operate December 1 to March 1, this will be the second year in a row that Long Beach delays opening its winter shelter on time. Last year, a change in service providers resulted in the shelter not being operational until December 23.
The issue this time was a search for a new site. In previous years, the winter shelter was in operation in the Atlantic Farms building, located at 6845 Atlantic Avenue, but this time the shelter is expected to operate out of the permanently closed North Neighborhood Library, located at 5571 Orange Avenue.
City health officials were originally tasked earlier this year with operating the winter shelter through November with funding to extend services approved by the County Board of Supervisors in April, but Department of Health and Human Services Director Kelly Colopy said Atlantic Farms was not available for an extension.
Economic Development Director John Keisler said negotiations are ongoing to purchase the Atlantic Farms site as part of plans to create a permanent homeless shelter in the city—a goal Mayor Robert Garcia announced during his State of the City address at the beginning of this year.
The Orange Avenue site is only being considered for a one-time use as a shelter. Keisler said the city is working on identifying “the highest and best use for the sale and re-use” of that site, which the city owns.
On Tuesday, the agenda item will also recommend council to declare a shelter crisis in the city, a standard procedure during this time that allows the city to utilize certain buildings as a shelter, said Colopy.
While the agenda item states operations can begin December 6, Health and Human Services Bureau Manager Teresa Chandler says it will take a little longer, still expecting it to open its doors by the “beginning of December”.
The site will be operated by U.S. VETS, which was selected by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority—the agency that oversees homeless services county-wide—while the Long Beach Rescue Mission will provide the meals.
Colopy said health officials are working on determining the number of people that can be housed in the facility, with funding at this time available for 100 people.
Once ready, the winter shelter will operate until March 31, 2018 from 5:00PM to 7:00AM daily and individuals hoping to secure a bed will need to find their way to the two assigned pick-up locations, including the city’s Multi-Service Center at 1301 West 12th Street and at Channel Street in San Pedro. A possible third location is being considered.
Details will be released closer to the opening date.