The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, Long Beach Area Coalition for the Homeless and Mental Health America collaborated with community partners to hold a conference entitled Community Connections for Homeless Solutions on April 27, 2017.
Community Connections for Homeless Solutions brought together stakeholders involved in homeless services and those from the outside to discuss implementable solutions and be a part of the City’s blueprint for preventing and addressing homelessness in the future. This approach to combat homelessness engages and increases coordination among all the different stakeholders in the city.
This conference is the product of countless hours of thought and planning by individuals committed to addressing homelessness in our city. Originally conceived as a project of the Long Beach Area Coalition for the Homeless as a summit to engage in a citywide dialogue, the process has taken over a year and has involved representatives from city government, Continuum of Care funded partners, business owners and residents, along with non-profits assisting the homeless.
Too often, homelessness is seen as ‘someone else’s problem’ with fingers pointed at the Police Department, Heath Department or non-profits for allowing homelessness to happen. This conference will not end homelessness in Long Beach, but it can be an important step determine who will take ownership of solutions and coordination among partners.
Sessions covered Prevention, Services, and Housing, including in-depth discussions on strategies for keeping people housed in a changing rental market and best practices for ensuring people under the care of hospitals and government care are not discharged into homelessness
This conference will create cross-sector working groups that will continue the work of addressing complex the challenges faced by residents experiencing homelessness in our city.
The 2017 Biennial Homeless Count (Count) findings reveal a 21 percent reduction in the total number of persons experiencing homelessness in Long Beach, and a 26 percent reduction in chronic homeless persons. Compared to 2,345 in 2015, the total number of homeless persons in the City has dropped to 1,863; and the total number of chronic homeless persons has dropped from 927 to 686. The 2017 Count, conducted on January 26, marks the fourth consecutive Point-In-Time (PIT) Count that reflects a reduction in homelessness in Long Beach.
The notable decrease in homelessness in Long Beach can be attributed to the expansion of permanent housing, innovative models of outreach, and a well-coordinated system of care. In the last two years, permanent housing resources have nearly doubled. This increase is due to the following factors: new housing programs for Chronic Homeless and Veteran populations, expansion of Rapid Rehousing, more homeless housing units, increased CoC-funded Veteran housing, increased Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH), increased set-aside Section 8 Vouchers, and the implementation of a $6 million surge grant of Supportive Services for Veteran’s Families (SSVF). This increased housing availability has allowed for effective and timely transitions from homelessness to permanent housing.