Long Beach will officially purchase the former Rescue Mission near the Los Angeles River after the City Council voted Tuesday to approve moving forward with the acquisition of the site.
The vote came four days after officials held a press conference to announce the pending deal to buy the Rescue Mission site so the city can convert it into a year-round homeless shelter.
The $13.2 million purchase price will be split between the city and Los Angeles County, which is pitching in $6.5 million to help pay for the acquisition and improvements needed at the building located on West Anaheim Street.
Long Beach will pay the remainder, with most of the funds coming from revenue generated by the city’s Measure A sales tax. The council voted unanimously to move forward with the purchase.
The site is expected to operate as a year-round shelter facility with capacity for 85 beds, but city officials said Tuesday that there is potential for it to expand its bed count during the winter months, when the city has traditionally opened an emergency shelter to get people off the streets during inclement weather.
Mayor Rex Richardson said that the annual winter shelter has been one of the city’s most critical tools in addressing homelessness, but it has always required an emergency to be declared and taken months of city staff’s time, as they needed to scout potential locations. Last year, Community Hospital was tapped as the winter shelter, but operations there closed at the end of April.
The Rescue Mission site eventually opened as a stopgap earlier this year.
“We should plan for that permanently,” Richardson said of shelters like the one the city is proposing at the Rescue Mission.
Negotiations to buy the property progressed rapidly, with Economic Development Director Bo Martinez saying the deal was completed in less than 90 days. A deal of this size typically takes nine months to a year to wrap up, he added.
The county’s funding, which is coming from the Measure H homelessness tax, was critical to the city’s purchase. LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who represents Long Beach, was on hand Tuesday night with a large $6.5 million check and credited Long Beach for being willing to invest in solutions for the region’s homelessness crisis.
“There are cities in the county, some in my own district, who have not stepped up to be part of the solution,” Hahn told the council. “They continually tell me what the problem is and don’t want to be part of the solution.”
Hahn added that having available beds is important so that when someone is ready to come off the streets, the don’t face a lack of bed space. If they’re told no beds are available, she said, the opportunity to get them housed could be lost.
A number of upgrades must be made to the building, including adding showers and more restrooms, American with Disabilities Act compliance updates and improvements to the air conditioning and heating system.
The site is also undergoing continued remediation because of chemicals in the soil and groundwater. Some of the upgrades to the ventilation system of the building are intended to improve air quality inside the facility, according to the presentation given to the council Tuesday night.
Because the city will now own the site, if the party currently doing the remediation stops—something the city said is “unlikely”—the city would be liable for continuing the remediation work.