The winter shelter at Community Hospital in East Long Beach is officially open, the city confirmed Monday afternoon. The property will now provide shelter to those experiencing homelessness through the end of March.

City officials had been looking for a site for the shelter for months after its two previous locations were designated for future housing projects. The City Council voted unanimously last week to approve a contract to operate this year’s shelter at Community Hospital at 1720 Termino Ave.

The shelter will have 81 beds each night to help protect unhoused residents from cold conditions, which are expected to reach the low 40s Monday night.

While the shelter will operate 24 hours per day, the only way for people to utilize its services is to catch a shuttle at the city’s Multi-Service Center at 1301 W. 12th St. in West Long Beach, which will transfer people to the hospital site daily.

Pickups from the Multi-Service Center will happen between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. daily, and people will then be transported back to the Multi-Service Center the following morning. The shelter, which is being run by First To Serve Outreach Ministries, will provide meals and help connect people to other services and housing opportunities, according to the city.

The annual winter shelter in Long Beach is paid for by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which provides grant funding. The site has typically opened in early December, but it was delayed this year as city officials worked to secure a location.

The city entered into an agreement with MWN Community Hospital LLC—which took over ownership of the hospital from the city earlier this year—to host the winter shelter there through March 31. MWN said its previously announced plans to transform the hospital into a wellness campus are still underway, and construction will likely begin in late 2023.

Homelessness increased by 62% in Long Beach from 2020 to 2022, according to a city count conducted in February. The annual count found 3,296 people living in some state of homelessness with 2,287 of those people being unsheltered.

Editor’s note: John Molina is the owner of MWN, and he is also the primary investor in the parent company that owns the Long Beach Post. Read more about the Post’s ownership here.

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