After consistently filling the beds at the winter emergency shelter at the old Community Hospital campus, city leaders on Friday said a second winter shelter will open in about three weeks in the Silverado Park gym.

The 84 beds at the new site will more than double the city’s capacity to serve unhoused people in its winter shelters, and “while this new shelter here and the one at Community Hospital aren’t permanent, we’re working together with folks to identify longer-term permanent housing, so when the temporary shelters close, people have a place to go,” Mayor Rex Richardson said in announcing the Silverado Park site.

The Silverado Park shelter will operate the same way as the existing winter shelter: It will offer on-site showers and restrooms, meals served daily, case management and other services, and it will be run by the nonprofit First To Serve.

Long Beach Public Works Director Eric Lopez speaks during a press conference announcing the city’s second winter shelter for unhoused people, which is set to open in about three weeks, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

The facility will allow service animals or pets under 30 pounds, and it won’t allow walk-ups. People who want to stay there must register at the Multi-Service Center, the city’s hub of homeless help, or at one of the new mobile service vans, and they’ll be given transportation to Silverado Park.

One key difference with the new winter shelter is that it will operate through the end of May. Funding for Long Beach’s winter shelters, which comes from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, typically ends in late March. City Manager Tom Modica said the Community Hospital shelter is expected to close by April 1, but the city will reassess whether it’s needed longer as that date approaches.

Officials couldn’t immediately say how much the Silverado Park site will cost, but their estimate of $62 per bed per night for about four months comes to roughly $500,000.

The Silverado Park gym has showers, and portable restrooms will be brought in to handle greater use than the facility normally gets. While plumbing problems last month at Community Hospital led the city to shut off the water and bring in porta-potties, Modica said, he doesn’t expect similar issues at Silverado Park, which was used as an emergency shelter for several months early in the pandemic.

The gym will be fenced off to ensure shelter operations don’t interfere with other activities at Silverado Park, officials said, and they’ll be looking to close it in time to resume regular youth programs as the school year ends. Councilmember Roberto Uranga, who represents the area, said he got no major complaints from residents when the gym was a temporary shelter in 2020, and he’s confident any impact on the neighborhood will be limited.

Officials noted they’re also working on opening a site where people living in RVs can get clean water and pump out sewage, and Modica said a place for overnight parking for people living in vehicles could be announced as soon as next week.

Finally, city Health Department Director Kelly Colopy said, conversion of the Luxury Inn from a motel to interim housing for people experiencing homelessness is underway, and a collection of tiny homes will built at the Multi-Service Center this year; together those projects will add about 100 units of housing.

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