City of Long Beach Begins Homeless County – NBC Los Angeles

Agencies across Los Angeles County are on a massive mission to find out how many people are homeless on the streets.

Starting Thursday, Long Beach will begin counting how many people live on the streets to get an exact number and data to help program state and federal funding.

Some Long Beach business owners and residents have been frustrated by the homelessness crisis for years, but are hopeful because they say Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson is making the homelessness crisis a priority.

Like Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, the Long Beach mayor also declared a state of emergency due to homelessness.

“I’m just a restaurant owner and he came and met me, which tells me a lot,” said Orsa Modica, a local business owner. “He tells me that he does care about the problem.”

Small business owners like Modica say they have noticed an increase in the number of homeless people near their restaurant.

Along with the encampments and crime, he says, they make his customers and employees feel unsafe.

“Thefts, we’ve had people defecating outside, we’ve had people come and pick up furniture and think they’re going to throw it out the window, walk around the restaurant naked with kids on the patio,” Modica said. .

Joes Harding manages condominium units and commercial properties in Long Beach.

He says that LA Metro is part of the problem, explaining that their trains are knocked out of service in downtown Long Beach, where homeless commuters then flood the streets and are stranded.

Metro previously said the policy is not unique to Long Beach and occurs at many “end-of-line” stops as a way to clear trains before returning them to division yards for maintenance and to prepare them for the next day of service.

“People are afraid to go out because they just don’t know what they’re going to find when they’re out on the streets,” Harding said. “We had a resident who was in the hospital for 11 days in the ICU because he was hit in the head while he was walking his dog.”

On Thursday, the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services will begin a count of homeless residents with the goal of determining how many people are homeless and what services they need.

The department says volunteers will also hand out “gift cards, hygiene kits and water” during the count.

In a statement to NBC4, Long Beach Councilwoman Mary Zendejas says, “Downtown has been the epicenter for homelessness.”

But she explains that just two weeks into the emergency response, they have taken important steps like activating a mobile access center, expanding Section 8 voucher assistance, and millions of dollars in funding for affordable housing.

Both Modica and Harding say the count is a step in the right direction, but they want more funding for mental health and drug addiction treatment services.