Long Beach, CA – Following the proclamation of a local homelessness emergency in Long Beach yesterday, Jan. 10, City leadership has established an Incident Command Center and identified nine work groups consisting of 100 people to take on the various aspects of homelessness emergency response.
The emergency will use an Incident Command System (ICS) model of operation, which allows personnel from a variety of departments to work collaboratively to respond to the incident. It also provides a framework to manage Federal, State and regional assets assigned to the incident over a widespread geographic area over a prolonged period and provides logistical and administrative support to ensure that operational staff can meet their objectives.
“It is critical that we address homelessness by building shelter capacity, increasing mental health and substance misuse treatment options and working to make our city streets cleaner and safer for all,” said Mayor Rex Richardson. “The team that has been assembled to work on this issue is made up of some of the City’s best.”
Health and Human Services Department (Health Department) Director Kelly Colopy and Public Works Department Director Eric Lopez will serve as the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Incident Command. The EOC Command will coordinate efforts through City Manager Tom Modica and the City Management group and will be supported by Chief Public Affairs Officer Kevin Lee and Health Department Public Affairs Officer Jennifer Rice Epstein, City Attorney Dawn McIntosh and City Equity Officer Alanah Grant.
The City’s stated mission is to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in the City and the region by increasing housing opportunities and by enhancing current initiatives that provide field-based outreach, engagement, and supportive services while maintaining the safety and security of the people experiencing homelessness, the general public and staff, and address and improve overall public safety for the entire community. Nine work groups, each assigned to a different focus area, have been convened to support this mission.
Focus Area: Intergovernmental Work
The intergovernmental work group will work with Los Angeles County officials and neighboring local governments to ensure all cities are engaged and contributing local resources to address homelessness in the region. This work will be led by Deputy City Manager Katy Nomura with support from Government Affairs, the Interjurisdictional Team, Financial Management staff and additional City Manager department staff.
Focus Area: Educational institutions, Businesses, Faith-based organizations and Nonprofit organizations
Led by Deputy City Manager Teresa Chandler, the educational institutions, businesses, faith-based organizations and nonprofit organizations work group will strengthen collaborations with these organizations to expand on current services, capacity and resources they provide to people experiencing homelessness. This work group will also work with local nonprofits, businesses, educational institutions, governmental institutions and faith-based communities to focus efforts on developing and resourcing upstream prevention strategies and identifying the strategies to address the root causes of homelessness. Homeless Services Bureau staff, Economic Development/Workforce Development staff, Financial Management staff and City Manager department staff will have also been assigned to this work group.
Focus Area: Public Health and Safety
The public health and safety work group will support ongoing efforts to expand mental health and substance use prevention and treatment; ensure housing includes behavioral health and other wrap-around service programming; and prioritize access to City services in areas where homeless resources are provided. This work will be led by Homeless Services Officer Somatra Church and Homeless Resource Coordinator Joel Reynoza, with support from the Homeless Services Outreach team, the Interdepartmental team, Police Department, Financial Management Staff, and other staff from the Health Department and Public Works Department.
Focus Area: Communications
The Communications work group will inform residents and the business community about strategies and resources the City is providing to reduce homelessness and ensure the safety of people living, working and visiting the city. This work will be led by Chief Public Affairs Officer Kevin Lee and Health Department Public Affairs Officer Jennifer Rice Epstein, with support from Public Information Officers and communications staff across the City.
Focus Area: Data and Technology
The Data and Technology work group will provide timely and accurate data that identifies areas of highest need, current gaps, Citywide resources provided, and number of people experiencing homelessness assisted. This work will be led by Technology Bureau Manager Behrang Abadi with support from staff members from Development Services, the Housing Authority, the Homeless Services Bureau and Financial Management.
Focus Area: Housing and Land Access
The Housing and Land Access work group will increase housing opportunities, both permanent and temporary, that provide greater access for people experiencing homelessness and those at risk of homelessness. It also will identify land and property, both public and private, that can be used for interim and long-term housing, safe places to sleep and emergency shelters for people experiencing homelessness as well as ensure construction is quickly completed to bring the housing on board. This work will be led by Development Services Operations Officer Alem Hagos and Housing Authority Bureau Manager Alison King with support from Deputy City Manager Teresa Chandler, Homeless Services Bureau leadership, the Real Estate Development Bureau, Public Works and City Manager department staff.
Focus Area: Procurement and Finance
The Procurement and Finance work group will increase State, County and regional funding opportunities, resources, capacity and access to services available to people experiencing homelessness and streamline processes that impede the City’s ability to expeditiously develop new housing and shelter facilities and sites to address homelessness. This work will be led by Procurement Agent Michelle Wilson and Recovery and Equity in Contracting Officer Augusta Gudeman with support from Financial Management staff, Homeless Services Bureau staff and Public Works staff.
Focus Area: Human Resources and Staffing
The Human Resources and Staffing work group will facilitate and accommodate staff reassignments to activation and focus areas, as necessary. It is led by Human Resources Deputy Director Fred Verdugo and Civil Service Executive Director Christina Winting with support from Human Resources Department leadership and staff.
Focus Area: Logistics
The Logistics work group will lead the logistics necessary to support other workgroup efforts. This work is led by Health Department Communicable Disease and Emergency Response Bureau Manager Sandy Wedgeworth with support from Public Health Emergency Management staff.
Leaders of the work groups convened today at the EOC and will continue to meet regularly to create and implement plans to reduce homelessness in Long Beach. All in all, nearly 100 people are involved in the activation with the expectation that others will be tapped as needed.