Los Angeles

Facing Backlash, Long Beach Nixes Temporary Homeless Shelter Plan at Community Park


Facing public backlash, the City of Long Beach Tuesday nixed its plan to open a temporary emergency homeless shelter at a community park.

The shelter was slated to open at the Silverado Park gym but faced resistance and protests from westside community members. The city earlier said it would go forward with its plan despite the backlash, but Mayor Rex Richardson on Tuesday reneged.

“I’m a mayor that listens. The community was very, very clear that the opportunity cost of taking away a gym was a burden that I didn’t feel comfortable going forward with”

The city announced the emergency shelter plan Feb. 2. It was to be open from March to the end of May.

In a letter to the community released Monday, Richardson and City Manager Tom Modica said Silverado Park was chosen because it was already one of three gyms identified as shelter opportunities during disasters like earthquakes or fires. Of the three gyms, they said, the one in Silverado Park had the best facilities.  

At the time, the city was prioritizing the need for additional shelter beds during the cold winter weather, the mayor and city manager wrote. They said that, and the fact the shelter was only going to be open for three months, caused them to fail to do the requisite community outreach.

“We acknowledge we did not pause to consider other possible implications including the fear and misperceptions of people experiencing homelessness. We missed our community’s voices and concerns,” the said.

Miriam Sosa, a parent in the community, said she was happy about the decision to nix the plan. A shelter should still be set up, but it should be placed further away from kids, she said.

For now, the city has temporarily opened its Multi-Service Center, which can hold 60 people.

Richardson noted that his city is still under what it deemed in January as an emergency related to homelessness, meaning the need for a long-term shelter location remains a priority. During last week’s storms, he noted, a person died due to exposure to the elements.

“This could mean life and death for our communities,” Richardson said.


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