With bed space in high demand for homeless residents trying to escape the cold, Long Beach will announce next week that it’s opening a second winter shelter site, Public Works Director Eric Lopez said Thursday.
Opening up a second winter shelter is something “that has never happened before,” according to Lopez, illustrating the high level of demand in Long Beach where, at last count, over 1,800 people were living on the streets.
Lopez, who made his comments at a board meeting for the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, did not disclose a location for the second winter shelter.
Lopez said the additional site will include 80 beds, essentially doubling capacity for the temporary shelter program, which has a site already up and running at the former Community Hospital campus.
Lopez said more details will be forthcoming next week, but he revealed the city will commit to opening the new shelter within the next three weeks.
Long Beach has been working toward opening a second winter shelter site for weeks.
Even when it was struggling through plumbing issues, the 80-bed shelter at Community Hospital was consistently filling up, Paul Duncan, director of the Long Beach Homeless Services Bureau, said in early January.
“Overall, on most days, we have more people that are looking than beds at this location,” Duncan said at a meeting of the city’s Homeless Services Advisory Committee.
It’s not clear yet how much opening the second shelter will cost, nor which agency will pay for it. Long Beach typically pays to rent space for the winter shelter, and Los Angeles County funds operations, which usually run through March.
The city is paying $45,000 a month to rent space at Community Hospital while also paying for transportation between the shelter and the city’s Multi-Service Center in West Long Beach, where people are required to go if they want to leave or enroll in the shelter.
In addition to the second winter shelter site, Lopez said the city will soon announce the location of a 50-space safe-parking lot where homeless residents living in their cars can access bathrooms and other services. The city is also searching for a way to give people living in RVs access to proper dump stations.
“We do have a challenge of people or people experiencing homelessness living in RVs that don’t have a place to dump their sewage or refill their water,” he said.