Following similar actions by the neighboring city of Los Angeles, the mayor of Long Beach has declared a state of emergency over the homelessness crisis.

Newly elected mayor Rex Richardson requested the state of emergency as his first act in office.

The decision, in part, comes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising homelessness across the city. Over the past year, Long Beach saw a 62% increase in homelessness, and a 123% increase in placement of people in shelters and emergency housing.

In a letter to addressed to City Manager Tom Modica, Richardson called on the city and its partners to be more “nimble” and act faster in bringing resources to those in need.

Modica was asked to bring the declaration to a Long Beach City Council meeting on Jan. 10, 2023.

Richardson said that the homelessness crisis will need to be addressed with a united front and creativity. He also called on Los Angeles County to assist those on the street who are struggling with mental health problems.

“We need more speed to address this issue and a heightened sense of urgency for all our City teams and partner agencies. Our City team needs the tools to remove barriers to hiring and procurement, the ability to construct and contract quickly to build shelter, and a structure to implement solutions and speed delivery of information, data, and results,” the letter reads.

Richardson said that Long Beach has a history of compassion for those experiencing homelessness and said that while there is much work to be done, progress has been made.

“It is clear that, with resources and focus, our community has the compassion and the ability to help get people off the streets,” the letter reads.

The mayor and Councilwoman Mary Zendejas also announced that a new website dedicated to the homelessness crisis will be launch in the future.

The website will serve as a “comprehensive resource” for the the unsheltered and those just wanting to learn more, and will combine all available information into one dashboard with links to available services, data and community engagement opportunities.