Change of Host Delays Opening of Long Beach Winter Shelter

winter shelter program

An empty warehouse at 6845 Atlantic Avenue will soon become Long Beach’s winter shelter filled with beds, heaters and portable toilets for the area’s homeless. Photo taken December 7, 2016 by Stephanie Perez.

With the winter season just beginning and cooler temperatures in the area, Long Beach’s winter shelter is slated to open soon, after a sudden change in hosts delayed the process, pushing back the original opening date.

“December 1 is the date that most of the shelters start across Los Angeles County,” said Teresa Chandler, manager for the Bureau of Human Services and previous homeless service officer. “However, because we were changing providers this year, we were set back in our timing and we don’t have an exact open date.”

For the past three years, the Long Beach Rescue Mission hosted Long Beach’s Winter Shelter, but this year the nonprofit organization First to Serve will host the shelter in the city, along with two other winter shelters in the county. The shelter, funded by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), will operate in the same North Long Beach facility where it has been held over the last several years.

“The winter shelter does not allow for walk ups,” Chandler said. “They have to go through the Multi-Service Center and through First to Serve, or different rescue missions to connect to the shelter. They don’t take in people because it fills up quickly.”

Instead, buses will pick up homeless people at designated pickup locations to be taken to the seasonal shelter. There will be three pickup locations, including the Multi-Service Center at 1301 West 12th Street, the Channel Street Park and Ride in San Pedro at the 110 Freeway underpass and Channel Street and a third location in downtown Long Beach that is still to be determined.

Previously, there was a pickup location at Magnolia Avenue and Ocean Boulevard but that corner is now fenced off as construction is under way for a new Civic Center. That location is also adjacent to Lincoln Park, a known gathering area during the day for the homeless which has also been fenced off.

Chandler said the city reached out extensively to the homeless there by flooding the park with information regarding where people can relocate to and the different services available to them.

“About six months prior to the construction site, once a month we had tables set up at the park to give information to community members and those in the park,” she said. “There were several people interested when we were doing the outreach, and we always have that handful of people who aren’t interested in services.”

During this past Tuesday’s city council meeting, the city passed the clearing of a state of emergency for the homeless population to allow the shelter to open as soon as possible. Now organizers need to wait for the completion of standard precautions, including fire and health inspections, to start bringing in heaters, portable toilets and beds into the facility.

Chandler said she expects the winter shelter to officially open within a week or so. Once it’s open, it will be available from 5:00PM to 7:00AM and available to single men and women. Pick ups will start at 4:30PM in San Pedro, 5:00PM at the Multi-Service Center and ending with the pickup location in downtown, which may result in a second round of pickups depending on demand and space at the shelter, she said. The winter shelter will remain open until March 2017.

Families in need of shelter will be directed to the Multi-Service Center during the weekdays, which will then connect them to a specific shelter for families and children. During the weekends, families can call 211 for shelters in other county locations.

For more information on shelters throughout the county, click here

Long Beach’s Winter Shelter is located at 6845 Atlantic Avenue.

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Stephanie Rivera is the immigration and diversity reporter for the Long Beach Post. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015.