City receives $30.5M grant to build tiny homes, buy motel for unhoused people

The state has awarded the Long Beach Health Department a $30.5 million grant to build tiny homes for people experiencing homelessness, officials announced Wednesday.

Funded through the California Department of Housing and Community Development, $25.2 million will be used to build 30-35 modular tiny homes at the Multi-Service Center on the Westside as well as purchase another motel as part of the city’s Project Homekey program.

“This generous grant will go a long way in helping reduce street homelessness in Long Beach,” Health Department Director Kelly Colopy said in a statement. “As we continue to expand outreach, it is critical that we also can meet shelter needs for people who are ready to receive services.”

The motel site purchase is being negotiated, according to the announcement. While the total number of interim housing units produced by the funding depends on which motel site is selected, the number is expected to be more than 100.

Each unit will include furniture, linens and a private bathroom, according to the city. Staff and security will be on-site 24/7.

The remaining $5.3 million will go toward operations and services for three years, according to the announcement, including supportive services to help people find permanent housing.

City staff is expected to bring the grant opportunity to the City Council in the fall for consideration, the announcement states. Once the council votes in favor of the grant and contracts are signed, it will take eight to 12 months for units to be available to those in need of shelter.

Since 2020, the number of temporary beds for people experiencing homelessness has increased from 60 to about 530, not including those announced Wednesday. Over that same period, however, the city’s homeless population has exploded to 3,296, a 62% increase.

The city has 344 beds through Project Homekey and Project Roomkey, the latter of which was established in March 2020 as part of the state’s response to the pandemic and ends on Sept. 30.

The number of permanent affordable housing units in Long Beach also has increased since 2020, with 124 units being added through four development projects, including Vistas Del Puerto and the Spark at Midtown. More than 200 more units are at various stages of development.

“Ending homelessness is one of our top priorities in Long Beach,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “We are grateful to the State for this grant which will allow us to expand an incredibly successful program and create safe, supportive housing for people in need.”

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Brandon Richardson is a business reporter, covering everything from real estate and healthcare to the airport and port to city hall and the economy. He is a Long Beach native who has been with the Business Journal since graduating from Long Beach City College in spring 2016 with an associate’s degree in journalism. He is an avid record collector and concert goer.
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