Los Angeles County Metro officials will decide at their Thursday meeting whether to initiate a discussion with Long Beach and county homeless service providers on creating a homeless service hub in the city along the agency’s A Line route.
The hub that Metro is looking to establish comes in response to Long Beach’s request for a change to the agency’s end-of-the-line policy, which forces all riders off Metro trains at the First Street platform in Downtown when service stops at around 1 a.m. every morning.
A six-day survey conducted by the agency last month showed that, on average, there were 39 people experiencing homelessness who were required to leave the trains each night. The survey also found another 45 people per day waiting at the First Street platform for train service to resume in the morning.
The motion that will be discussed Thursday calls for the agency to work with the city and the Los Angeles Homelessness Service Authority, along with other agencies, to look at using surplus land owned by Metro along the A Line to use as a potential site for housing and services to be administered.
It’s sponsored by four board members, including Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who represents Long Beach.
Board members had previously discussed the possibility of creating a hub at the Willow Street station, pointing to the city of Philadelphia, which operates a year-round homeless services support hub at one of its platforms, as a potential model for how its hub might work.
The motion references the Willow Street Station, noting that Metro owns land there that it could lease to provide services, but it says the objective is to find a location that best serves the unhoused population with minimal disruption to operations.
Metro’s Willow Street Station has a large parking lot located on the west side of the train platform. The parking lot runs along the eastern border of Veterans Park and Jackie Robinson Academy.
Using a station north of Downtown would push the emptying of the trains outside of Downtown as the trains circle back to their storage facility near the Wardlow Street Station, where they are cleaned and maintained each night.
The Long Beach City Council requested in October that the agency rethink its policies, saying that it was leading to an increase in the amount of homelessness in the city’s Downtown. Business owners and residents surrounding the First Street platform pushed the council to act, saying the policy was leading to an increase in crime and health and safety issues that were damaging the Downtown.
If the motion is approved, Metro is expected to receive an update on the matter in April, including reasoning for why the selected site was chosen, a plan for the operations that will be provided and how any challenges associated with the hub will be addressed.
The Metro Board of Directors is scheduled to meet Feb. 23 at 10 a.m. The board’s agenda and directions on how to participate in the meeting can be found here.
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