Long Beach and the owner of the former Community Hospital property have reached an agreement to extend the winter homeless shelter operations at the site through the end of April, the city announced Friday.

City officials had been seeking an extension at the hospital, which has been hosting up to 81 people per night since mid-December, when the City Council approved the original agreement with MWN Community Hospital LLC to run the annual shelter there.

Persistent cold weather and rain pushed the city to secure another month at the hospital, where operations were originally expected to end next week.

The original contract approved in December saw the city pay $45,350 per month to lease the property with an additional $25,000 paid to MWN for startup costs. Los Angeles County has historically covered the bulk of operational costs, which went to First to Serve Ministries this year.

Chelsey Magallon, a spokesperson for the city, said that the city will continue to pay for the lease, security and transportation for people to and from the hospital site. The cost for the monthly lease will remain the same, Magallon said.

The county will cover the cost of the services for the additional month, Magallon said.

As of Wednesday, there were 73 people staying at the facility, she said.

At a community meeting earlier this month, Councilmember Kristina Duggan and other city officials told residents that no new residents would be accepted into the hospital shelter and that the extension would merely give more time to those currently living there.

However, Magallon said that the site will continue to accept new people who are seeking shelter.

The site has had some issues, with plumbing mishaps occurring early on that required the installation of temporary bathrooms and showers, along with a recent outbreak of COVID-19 at the shelter leading to allegations that First To Serve Ministries would not let residents return to the site if they left. But city officials have said the site has not created any problems in the neighborhood.

The city said it’s continuing to look for a new site that can host at least as many beds as Community Hospital did. Last month, the city canceled plans to create a temporary shelter at Silverado Park in West Long Beach after hundreds of residents protested and shut down a community meeting held by city officials.

That site was supposed to offer 84 beds and operate through the end of May.

After the announcement of the cancelation, the city started setting up temporary beds inside its Multi-Service Center that staff have to set up and take down before each business day.

The 60 beds there helped keep people out of the weather, and in its Friday announcement, the city said those beds are still available on days when the forecast calls for rain or temperatures below 45 degrees. The city said about 40-50 people continue to use those beds when they’re available.

How much a new shelter site would cost the city is unclear and will likely be affected by whatever lease agreement is reached. The Silverado Park site was projected to cost $62 per bed per night, but the gym that the city intended to use is owned by the city and didn’t require a lease payment like Community Hospital or other potential shelter sites.

City officials have not given any indication of where they’re looking for a new shelter site, other than by saying it will not be a public park and that the city would conduct public meetings with residents before making a final decision—which wasn’t done in the case of Silverado Park.

Earlier this year, the City Council approved $13 million to be set aside to pay for projects to address homelessness in the city. In an update to the council Tuesday night, city officials said that about $502,000 of that money has been spent.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that the cost of the lease for the Community Hospital property will remain the same.

John Molina is the owner of MWN Community Hospital LLC and also the primary investor in the parent company of the Long Beach Post. He is not involved in editorial decisions. For more information about the Post’s ownership, visit our transparency portal.

Residents say they were told not to leave winter homeless shelter amid COVID outbreak

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.