Century Villages Offering Many Services to Vets Facing Homelessness

By Jon LeSage
CENTURY VILLAGES at Cabrillo is based on creating a physical and social environment where collaborating programs can succeed in overcoming homelessness.

If you can gain permission to pass by the security guard booth right off Pacific Coast Highway and east of State Route 103, you’ll be impressed to see how extensive and developed the Century Villages at Cabrillo have become. There are other condo building structures around it serving various communities — the homeless, single mothers who’ve been abused, drug addicts and alcoholics in treatment, and veterans who’ve lived through several life challenges, among them.

The increase in the homeless population in recent years can be a sore spot for Long Beach residents and workers -- a bit of compassion and concern mixed with anxiety over crime increasing and more homeless people out on the streets. It is a reality with the city reporting earlier this year a 62% increase in that population over the past two years -- up to a total of nearly 3,300 homeless people.

Century Villages at Cabrillo (CVC) in late summer added The Cove, a section for additional housing on 27 acres, for more affordable housing aimed much at taking more of the homeless community off the streets. CVC reports that there are currently more than 1,600 people who call CVC home, and that nearly 700 of them are veterans.

The city’s planning commission approved a master plan in September on the long-term redevelopment of CVC, but it still needs to be approved by the city council. That’s likely to happen in the near future.

VA Plays a Role Serving Vets

The Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital administration runs the Cabrillo VA Clinic based at the center of the CVC. That outpatient clinic provides primary care and specialty health services, including mental health care, laboratory and pathology services, telehealth and more.

The VA has a focus on veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless due to financial hardship, unemployment, addiction, depression or transition from jail. VA staff were not available to be interviewed for this article, but it’s worth acknowledging their part in increasing and improving a number of services to the Cabrillo community.

The Cove will provide 60 affordable homes for veterans experiencing homelessness and 29 affordable homes for low income veterans for a total of 89 homes. That’s opening up along with supportive services available to all veteran residents. These residents, and the non-veteran homeless population, have access to immediate food and shelter, including both transitional and permanent housing; and life skills development, and education.

Service Opportunities Abound

CVC benefits from having a pool of volunteers providing a wide range of services to staff and the residential community. Some of the opportunities include working with a diverse client population and participating in community development activities, and planning and hosting family events, workshops, classes, and large-scale community festivals. Students can particularly benefit from these extensive programs.

There are internship opportunities available with the Residential Services team. Objectives carried out by this team include developing a strong sense of community among residents, bringing quality service to residents, and supporting on-site collaborations with agencies.

Student interns might be involved in recreational and educational activities for children enrolled in the summer and afterschool programs; putting on special campus events like the Halloween Festival; participating in case management activities such as intake procedures; conducting the annual resident survey; and producing the CVC newsletter.

Several local companies and non-profit groups supported and sponsored the 25th Anniversary Gala in September. Tributes were paid to former Century Board member Earl G. Fields and long-time partner, Wells Fargo.

Bright Spot for Homeless Vets

Conditions have been improving gradually for veterans, according to a new national study that was released in early November. The number of homeless American veterans experiencing homelessness sank more than 11% from the beginning of 2020 to early 2022, federal officials announced.

However, there are still about 33,000 veterans around the country who don’t have reliable housing options. More work needs to be done, but targeted efforts to work with veterans is producing positive results.

“One veteran experiencing homelessness will always be one too many, but the [new data] shows that we are making real progress in the fight to end veteran homelessness,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement.

Officials from VA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness conduct the Point-in-Time count annually to gauge the American homeless population — including veterans — on a single night each year.

Jon LeSage is a resident of Long Beach and a veteran business media reporter and editor. You can reach him at jtlesage1@yahoo.com.


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