In order to fill a void when the winter shelter at Community Hospital closes this month, city officials are looking to open a new facility for homeless individuals in a building on Anaheim Street that was used as a thrift store run by the Long Beach Rescue Mission.
The new shelter at 702 W. Anaheim St. would potentially be operated by First to Serve, a nonprofit that runs the current homeless shelter at Community Hospital near the Traffic Circle. That shelter was extended for a month but is slated to close April 30.
Some of the details about the proposed new shelter were included in an emailed note to District 1 residents sent by Councilmember Mary Zendejas on Friday.
City officials said in a statement Saturday that logistics for the new site are still being worked out, “but in the meantime, we are engaging with community members within the local area via the upcoming community meeting as well as other outreach.”
Zendejas said in her note that a community meeting is planned to gather input from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 13 at the Drake Park Community Center.
“The City is grateful for the opportunity to consider this site as it was used as a Winter Shelter several years ago and the location can accommodate this critical need for our community members who are experiencing homelessness,” the councilmember wrote.
Zendejas said in a text message Saturday that if the location works out, she hopes it will open as soon as possible “because the need is huge right now.”
She said the county would fund the shelter, but the city would contribute whatever they don’t pay for. The cost, however, was not yet clear.
The Rescue Mission purchased the building in 2012 and ran a thrift store there until Dec. 1, when the nonprofit homeless services agency announced it would close. Officials from the rescue mission said at the time that they wanted to sell the property in order to expand capacity at its Lydia House that offers housing for women and children.
It’s unclear whether the city would lease or purchase the building, but Zendejas said in her email the temporary shelter would offer between 80-100 beds. Those who want to stay there would take a shuttle from the city’s Multi-Service Center in West Long Beach, similar to the way the Community Hospital facility is run.
The city in February shelved plans to open a homeless shelter at Silverado Park after heated community pushback, with residents saying the area lacked access to park and recreation space.
In lieu of that, the city began setting up 60 beds each night at the Multi-Service Center, its hub for social services, and removing the beds each morning when the facility opens.
Meanwhile, as the city scrambles for shelter space, public works officials posted signs near Lincoln Park and the Billie Jean King Library Downtown, notifying homeless individuals that the area would be cleaned of debris on Monday and Tuesday. It was not clear where individuals who sleep near the park would go.
According to the latest figures on the city’s homeless dashboard, the emergency winter shelter has been at 96% of its capacity most of the winter.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional comments from Councilmember Mary Zendejas.