The city has opened its annual winter homeless shelter at the site of its existing year-round shelter in West Long Beach.
Long Beach officials said that the new year-round shelter at 702 W. Anaheim St. was already operating, but all of its 85 beds were full. Monday, the city said the winter shelter program had opened at the site, adding another 40 beds.
“We’re extremely fortunate to utilize our Emergency Shelter facility as our Winter Shelter, where we have added 40 additional beds to protect more people experiencing homelessness from inclement weather during the coldest time of the year,” Mayor Rex Richardson said in a statement.
The shelter’s opening comes ahead of what’s expected to be a wet winter in Southern California with an El Niño weather system anticipated to bring large amounts of rain to Long Beach and surrounding cities.
The shelter is expected to be open through March 31 and be operated by First to Serve Outreach Ministries and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
People staying at the shelter will have access to three daily meals, onsite showers and restrooms, case management and space for service animals and pets, according to the release.
However, in order to gain access to the shelter, people will have to be referred through one of the city’s mobile access centers or through the Multi-Service Center in West Long Beach.
Long Beach has regularly opened a winter shelter with the help of Los Angeles County, but for years the site has bounced around the city with officials having to conduct a search annually for a suitable space.
However, in June, the county and city agreed to purchase an old thrift store previously operated by the Long Beach Rescue Mission to provide a permanent shelter facility in the city. The city and the county shared the $13.2 million purchase price for the site at 702 W. Anaheim Street, which was originally said to be able to provide 85 beds.
The shelter site is eventually expected to be retrofitted with bathroom and shower facilities, but the city has previously said it will deploy a mobile shower trailer to the site.
Earlier this year the city had resorted to setting up additional beds inside the Multi-Service Center during a stretch of extremely cold winter that gripped the region, but city officials said recently that they’re hoping to avoid that this year because of the stress it placed on employees who had to set up and take down cots before the center could open for business.
Two other projects the city hoped to be open by now, a 33-unit tiny home village and a converted 78-room motel in North Long Beach have been delayed. Construction on the motel is expected to start at some point in 2024, and earlier this month the city announced that the tiny home project likely wouldn’t open until 2025.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with more information from the city.