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Homelessness is a vastly complex issue, revolving around mental health, law, government, and the understanding of both neighbors and service providers. Oftentimes, however, business owners are not specifically addressed in the homelessness issue even though they are directly affected by it. This is precisely why a panel discussion, “Homelessness & the Business Community,” will be hosted on April 5 at 3PM.

Taking place at the Small Business Development Center (309 Pine Ave.), the panel will include a dialogue about the challenges of homelessness, what is currently being done within the community, and how business owners can not only more efficiently address the problem but become proactive, informed advocates.

”Many homeless service providers already exist within Long Beach, but who was being left out of this conversation were business owners that routinely expressed concern and frustration over the issue of homelessness in their community,” said Todd Stevens, a graduate student studying social work at CSULB. “What was surprising was most business owners didn’t want the problem to just disappear, they wanted to help homeless individuals get the help they needed, but they didn’t know how. This is why we developed this event to address the needs of business owners when it comes to approaching and assisting with the issue of homelessness.”

Beginning with a series of five short presentations before delving into a discussion, different panelists with expertise on the issue of homelessness will spearhead the discussion. Representatives from City of Long Beach, homeless service providers, Long Beach Police Department, the Downtown Long Beach Associates, and various business owners will be represented on the panel.

Then, of course, the floor is opened to questions and concerns from business owners.

”The frustration around the issue of homelessness is real for business owners,” Stevens said, “but I believe their frustration stems from the lack of knowledge on what to do and the perceived idea that nothing is being done. I think that if appropriate linkage to resources are given and a respectful, safe space is created to discuss this topic, collaborative change on a community level could occur.”

”Homelessness & The Business Community: A Panel Discussion,” will take place on Tuesday, April 5, at 3PM at the Small Business Development Center, located at 309 Pine Ave.