Former Long Beach library to serve as winter homeless shelter again

Local news

The former North Neighborhood Branch Library in Long Beach will once again serve as the city’s winter homeless shelter following a one-year hiatus, officials announced Wednesday.

The City Council on Tuesday approved a lease with Volunteers of America Los Angeles to use the former library, at 5571 Orange Ave., as a temporary homeless shelter for the next six months with oversight by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, officials said in a news release.

The library, which shuttered its doors to make room for the nearby Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library and is slated to be demolished at some point to make way for affordable housing, had served as an L.A. County winter shelter in 2017 and 2018. 

Last year, the city moved the winter shelter to the city’s industrial west side.

In March, with the onset of COVID-19, the city transformed the former library back into a temporary shelter as part of a citywide push to get people off the streets to protect them from the coronavirus.

As in past years, the winter shelter will be a closed site, meaning people will have to be bused to the shelter, with no walkups allowed. A city bus dedicated to transporting shelter participants will make daily pick-ups at the Long Beach Multi-Service Center, 1301 W. 12th St., officials said.

While rules in previous years required shelter guests to leave in the morning, this year people have the option to stay-in-place for 24 hours and leave the shelter only when necessary, according to the news release. The city has also reduced the winter shelter’s occupancy to a maximum of 63 people to meet social distancing standards.

The shelter will be open daily through March 31, 2021, and Volunteers of America Los Angeles have the option to extend its lease with the city to keep the shelter open through Nov. 1, 2021, if needed, officials said.

Other year-round shelters in the city include the Samaritan House and Lydia House, which are operated by the Long Beach Rescue Mission, in addition to Project Achieve and the Elizabeth Anne Seton Residence, operated by Catholic Charities of Los Angeles. 

For more shelter information about the winter shelter, people can call Volunteers of America Los Angeles at 213-389-1500 or the city’s Multi-Service Center at 562-570-4500. 

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