Los Angeles County Metro officials will begin discussions with Long Beach and regional homeless service providers about the possibility of locating a service hub along the A Line in Long Beach, with a potential site being announced as early as April.
Metro’s board of directors voted unanimously Thursday to authorize the discussions with the city, county and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to create a “Hub of Hope” at a Metro-owned property along the train line that runs through Long Beach.
LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who serves on the board, said the hubs could provide things like temporary shelter, showers, a place to charge a phone and access to homeless services.
“We’d find the property and turn it over for use, but the rest of the agencies have to provide everything else,” Hahn said of Metro’s role in the project. “Metro has stepped up to the plate, but let’s face it, it’s not their core mission to do this work that the rest of our governing bodies are responsible for.”
The board voted on a separate item earlier Thursday to begin looking at surplus parcels it owns throughout the county that could be provided for permanent or temporary supportive housing, something the agency was asked to do by the city of LA and Long Beach as the region tries to move unhoused people into shelter.
Board members began discussing the issue earlier this year after being asked in October by Long Beach officials to reevaluate how its end-of-the-line policy was potentially affecting the cities where people are forced off of trains when they go out of service.
For Long Beach, that has meant that passengers are required to leave the trains at the First Street station in Downtown at around 1 a.m., when there are little to no services available other than a bus that can take people back to Los Angeles.
A Metro survey conducted earlier this year found that an average of 39 unhoused people per night exited the train in Downtown over a six-day period. The apparent rise in people experiencing homelessness in Downtown has become a concern for area residents and businesses, who say that it’s led to an increase in vandalism and other quality of life issues.
While board members discussed the potential of creating service centers along all of its routes to try and increase safety for all riders, the proposal in Long Beach could be focused on two stations. Rather than do away with the end-of-the-line policy completely, the board’s motion indicated that trains could stay in service after leaving the First Street station and force passengers to exit somewhere else before trains make it to the maintenance yard just north of the Wardlow Street Station.
Metro owns parking lots at the Willow Street and Wardlow Street stations between Downtown and its maintenance yard, and previous board discussions have focused on the Willow Street station, which has the larger parking lot.
Board members are expected to receive a report in April that will summarize the selection of the site for the service hub, including a rationale for why it was selected. The report is also expected to include a plan for operations at the site and strategies to address any challenges that might come up.