Soft launch of new Long Beach Homeless Ally program aims to gather civic leadership to help transient population

Steve+BeCotte%2C+Long+Beach+Homeless+Coalition+%28LBHC%29+president%2C+speaks+to+attendees+of+a+soft-launch+event+of+a+new+homeless-advocacy+program+coming+to+Long+Beach+in+2020+called+the+Long+Beach+Homeless+Ally+program+on+Tuesday%2C+Nov.+18.+
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Soft launch of new Long Beach Homeless Ally program aims to gather civic leadership to help transient population

Steve BeCotte, Long Beach Homeless Coalition (LBHC) president, speaks to attendees of a soft-launch event of a new homeless-advocacy program coming to Long Beach in 2020 called the Long Beach Homeless Ally program on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

Steve BeCotte, Long Beach Homeless Coalition (LBHC) president, speaks to attendees of a soft-launch event of a new homeless-advocacy program coming to Long Beach in 2020 called the Long Beach Homeless Ally program on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

Sebastian Echeverry | Signal Tribune

Steve BeCotte, Long Beach Homeless Coalition (LBHC) president, speaks to attendees of a soft-launch event of a new homeless-advocacy program coming to Long Beach in 2020 called the Long Beach Homeless Ally program on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

Sebastian Echeverry | Signal Tribune

Sebastian Echeverry | Signal Tribune

Steve BeCotte, Long Beach Homeless Coalition (LBHC) president, speaks to attendees of a soft-launch event of a new homeless-advocacy program coming to Long Beach in 2020 called the Long Beach Homeless Ally program on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

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A new homeless-advocacy program called Long Beach Homeless Ally is in the works at The Century Villages at Cabrillo residential center to connect local businesses and schools with resources to help the homeless population citywide.

Representatives from the offices of 70th District Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, 33rd District State Senator Lena Gonzalez, 47th District Congressmember Alan Lowenthal and Long Beach councilmembers met with homeless advocates Tuesday morning to share ideas on how the new program, which is set to roll out in 2020, should operate and what services it could offer.

“This is an opportunity to bring everyone to the table to talk about homelessness,” Steve BeCotte, Long Beach Homeless Coalition (LBHC) president, said at the start of the meeting.

LBHC leaders based at the villages hosted the event and collected feedback from attendees to see what direction the program should take before it launches next year.

The goal of the Long Beach Homeless Ally program is to identify local businesses, schools and civic offices in the community as “allies,” so homeless individuals can approach these institutions knowing they will receive help, in some cases food or water, no questions asked.

Paige Pelonis, vice president of communications with the LBHC, said the establishments that choose to become an ally in the program would be identified with a sticker posted on front door of that ally’s main entrance.

When a homeless individual sees that sticker, then they know the office or business is a program ally and they can seek help from them without being kicked out, Pelonis added.

“You should be able to ask for water and not be charged 25 cents,” she said. “You need it.”

The LBHC’s next step is to call each attendee individually to follow up with their thoughts and feedback on the program, Pelonis said.

Teresa Chandler, interim deputy City manager and former Homeless Services Division officer, will work with the LBHC after feedback from Tuesday’s event is implemented to the program to inform the homeless who visit the City’s Multi-Service Center about the Long Beach Homeless Ally program.

The soft-launch event asked attendees to break off into three groups to create hypothetical scenarios where a person is experiencing early stages of homelessness, and then the groups had to pinpoint services this person would benefit from. Each group came up with three different homeless profiles, from someone dealing with mental-health issues to someone loosing their jobs and not affording rent.

Sebastian Echeverry | Signal Tribune
Representatives from the offices of 70th District Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, 33rd District State Senator Lena Gonzalez, 47th Disctrict Congressmember Alan Lowenthal and Long Beach councilmembers met with homeless advocates Tuesday morning, Nov. 18 to share ideas on how a new homeless advocacy program should operate and what services it could offer.

According to the 2018 Long Beach Everyone Home Taskforce report, a person’s loss of employment was the major cause for someone falling into homelessness. Earlier this year, the Long Beach Point-in-Time Homeless Count report stated that 1,894 people were experiencing homelessness citywide. About 67% of the homeless counted in Long Beach are unsheltered.

The report also stated that 61 families are experiencing some form of homelessness, and 24% of those families are unsheltered.