homeless shelter interior

A shot of the interior of one of the modular units at the city's new year-round homeless shelter, Atlantic Farms Bridge Housing Community in North Long Beach.

Long Beach finally has a city-run, year-round homeless shelter.

City officials announced the grand opening of the Atlantic Farms Bridge Housing Community, 6841-6845 Atlantic Ave., in North Long Beach on Thursday morning, Oct. 1, nearly two years after the city first discussed the project.

The coronavirus pandemic precluded the possibility of an in-person ribbon-cutting to commemorate the occasion, so officials opted for a video announcement instead.

“This has been a priority for our community right here in Uptown,” said City Councilmember Rex Richardson, who represents the Ninth District where the shelter is located, “for quite some time.

“This will provide a safe space for individuals who have been experiencing homelessness to rest each night,” he added, “and connect with resources to help them achieve permanent housing so that they can get on the right track in life.”

The shelter, which was funded with $8 million from the State Homeless Emergency Aid Program and more than $3 million from Los Angeles County’s Measure H, can fit 125 people at full capacity. But amid the pandemic, the shelter will be limited to 100 people to allow for adequate social distancing.

Volunteers of America Los Angeles will dedicate 30 full-time staff members to operate the shelter, which will be open 24/7. Staff and security will be on-site at all times.

The Atlantic Farms Bridge Housing Community includes a kitchen, dining room, lounge, laundry, case management services, a dog run and pet-relief area, storage, parking, gender-specific and gender-neutral restrooms and more for residents.

Kelly Colopy, the city’s Health and Human Services director, said the average length of stay for residents is expected to be about six months before they move on to more permanent housing.

To use the shelter, Colopy said, people must be referred by either Long Beach’s Multi-Service Center or other outreach services.

The new shelter comes as Long Beach appears to be seeing an increase in homelessness. According to the most recent homeless count, the number of people who are homeless in Long Beach has grown 7% in the last year.

“Homelessness remains a critical issue here in Long Beach and across the state,” Mayor Robert Garcia said.

And the new shelter, he added, “delivers comprehensive support to transition people experiencing homelessness in Long Beach into long-term housing.”

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