Press Telegram: Long Beach receives $2 million to support 2 homeless services programs
By ALFREDO SANTANA
State Sen. Lena Gonzalez visited Long Beach’s MacArthur Park this week to announce a $2 million allocation to support homelessness services in the city, with $750,000 intended to help recently incarcerated people find housing and avoid recidivism.
Gonzalez made the presentation on Monday, Oct. 16, as volunteers gathered at the park to give those who are homeless clothes, food and water under the city’s bimonthly Monday Matters program.
Gonzalez, who represents the Senate’s 33th District, said California “is taking a proactive approach in mitigating the homeless crisis,” and the money will serve to provide more services for the most vulnerable populations at risk of becoming unhoused, or already experiencing homelessness.
Long Beach, meanwhile, has declared homelessness a city emergency in order to quickly enact solutions to the crisis. During the city’s point-in-time homeless count earlier this year, Long Beach tallied 3,447 people who were homeless.
Gonzalez praised Long Beach and community leaders for their “unwavering passion and dedication in advocating for innovative solutions that benefit our unhoused neighbors.”
Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson, City Prosecutor Doug Haubert, Homelessness Service Bureau Manager Paul Duncan, and Mary Simmons, Project Dignity organizer and co-chair of the AOC7 Neighborhood Organization, were among those who attended the announcement at the park.
The money, Richardson said, will be used to enhance programs offered at the Multi-Service Center.
The MSC is the main homeless services facility, where nearly 30 employees, manage cases to find homeless folks health providers, help them apply for and get vital documents, obtain job placements and ultimately find permanent housing.
As for the reentry to society program, the $750,000 disbursement will aim to help improve services for people who have been incarcerated and their families.
Leoda Valenzuela, a spokesperson for Gonzalez’s office, said data indicates those with jailhouse records are more likely to become homeless.
Those with criminal records released from jail have to get assistance through a program sponsored by Haubert’s office to treat mental health and substance-use conditions.
Haubert lauded the money allocation as critical in helping make the city safer.
“Providing critical services, like mental health and substance use rehabilitation, for those who need it the most, is a smart way to reduce crime,” Haubert said in a press release. “The funds secured by Senator Lena Gonzalez for our community will be focused on those most likely to reoffend, with the goal of reducing homelessness among formerly incarcerated people and making our neighborhoods and public spaces safer.”
Simmons also welcomed the latest round of support to improve services for the unhoused.
“As our community struggles with a surge in homelessness, the need for critical services for our most vulnerable citizens has never been greater,” Simmons told Gonzalez at MacArthur Park. “We are grateful for the support provided by Senator Gonzalez in securing resources that will enable the provision of vital services to the community, aimed at addressing this pressing issue.”
Read the article on the Press Telegram, here.