New Statistics Shows City’s Homeless Population Still Declining

The number of homeless people on the streets of Long Beach has been in steady decline over the first part of this decade, and the release of a biennial survey conducted by the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services illustrated another dip in the numbers.

Between 2013 and 2015 there was an 18 percent reduction in person’s experiencing homelessness, a 13 percent decline in chronically homeless persons—homeless for one year or more— and a 24 percent drop in children experiencing homelessness.

During the same period the city has seen an increase in permanent housing beds of over 40 percent, jumping from 854 to over 1,200, a 177% change from 2011. The increase in permanent housing was due in part to the installation of new programs that were developed to target subpopulations of the homeless population and also because of the expansion of rapid rehousing units.

“I am very proud of our citywide efforts to get homeless people the services and support they need,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in statement. “We continue to make great strides in reaching and helping some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”

The largest population affected by homelessness was the 45-54 year old age bracket which represented 28 percent of the city’s homeless population. The smallest population were those in the 18-24 age bracket. The 2,090 adults counted represented nearly 90 percent of the homeless population despite having decreased in size by over 700 since 2011.

Males made up the overwhelming majority of the count at 69 percent of the total population. And when analyzing the numbers by gender, white adults (37%) accounted for the largest portion of the homeless count with Black of African American (33%) and Hispanic/Latino (22%) making up the two next largest demographics.

The survey did show increases in a few troubling areas. Unsheltered adults with serious mental illnesses increased by nearly 16 percent from 2013 and the number of adults with substance abuse issues that were sheltered in 2013 was nearly halved, dropping from 241 to 127 in 2015.

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. The count was conducted by more than 300 community volunteers earlier this year who attempted to document every homeless person in the City.

The Long Beach Multi Service Center serves as the primary point of entry for homeless persons seeking help as it averages around 26,000 visits annually. The center, which includes staff from Heath and Human Services and other public and private organizations. There the staff works to promote self-sufficiency and help to rebuild the lives of those that come in seeking help.

Garcia is scheduled to appear at a press conference hosted by the Long Beach Veterans Healthcare Center and the Department of Health and Human Services next week where information pertaining to veteran homelessness will be discussed.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.