NCJW-LB Tours the City of Long Beach Multi-Service Center (MSC)

by Natalie Swit, Chair Homeless Subcommittee

On Friday, October 5, 2018,

16 members and friends of NCJW-Long Beach toured the City of Long Beach’s Multi-Service Center (MSC) for those experiencing homelessness.  Our tour guides were Elsa Ramos, Special Projects Coordinator (and former director of the MSC) and Candace Facemyer, Resource Liaison, for the Homeless Services Division, Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services.

Elsa and Candace explained that since 1995, the Long Beach Health Department has led the Long Beach Continuum of Care (CoC), a local planning body funded by HUD that coordinates housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals.  Led by the Long Beach Health Department, the Multi-Service Center (MSC) facility houses 12 public and private partner organizations working together to promote self-sufficiency and rebuild the lives of those experiencing homelessness. Annually, the MSC averages 26,000 client visits, making the MSC the primary point of entry for persons seeking homeless services assistance in Long Beach. Services range from basic amenities of shower, laundry, mail and message center, to street outreach, van shuttle (to services and meals throughout the City), medical care, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, HIV/AIDS services, integrated case management, and housing coordination, and voter registration assistance.  We learned the fastest growing group of homeless are women and seniors.  Most impressive was the MSC’s on site free medical care for children and families (provided by The Children’s Clinic http://www.thechildrensclinic.org/) as well as an outdoor covered park area with picnic tables and a safe clean environment to obtain meals.

The City receives funds from the L.A. County Proposition “H” that was passed in March 2017 as well as the above-mentioned CoC funds received through HUD ($9 million was received for the 2018-2019 application process).  As one of the 11 largest cities in the State, the City recently received a grant in the amount of $12 million which must be used by 2020.  Tentative allocations for those funds are the siting and creation of a much needed year round shelter, storage facilities, and the hiring of additional outreach personnel.  In addition, five percent of the funds must be used for outreach to youth who are experiencing homelessness.

Earlier this year, Mayor Robert Garcia appointed a task force to lead an initiative called “Everyone Home Long Beach.” The task force which is comprised of community members, business leaders, government officials, nonprofit leaders and education partners met four time over the summer to learn more about how the Continuum of Care is currently operating in Long Beach, provide input and suggestions, and build on the comprehensive, multi-faceted plan to support individuals and families in our community. Their work will be turned into a formal report by City staff and will be presented to the Mayor and City Council by the end of the year.  The last Task Force meeting is Friday, November 9 which anyone can attend (location to be determined). See http://www.longbeach.gov/everyone-home-long-beach/task-force/ for more information.

HOW CAN NCJW-LONG BEACH HELP?  We can:              

  • Collect and donate clothing; especially underwear and socks;

  • Collect towels needed for showering; donate travel size toiletries;

  • Collect art materials and provide volunteers to teach arts/ knitting/etc.;

  • Arrange and serve a meal(s) in the park adjoining the MSC;

  • Donate household supplies for those transitioning to permanent housing;

  • Participate in the Point-In-Time Homeless count to be held January 2019

For more information on how to assist: http://www.longbeach.gov/globalassets/health/media-library/documents/services/directory/homeless-services/get-involved/give-a-hand-up Special thanks to our Community Service Vice President, Barbara Cohen and Advocacy Chair on Homeless, Natalie Swit, for organizing this event. For more information please email info@ncjwlongbeach.org