Mobile Access Centers Serving the Homeless

By Emily Blomquist

The City of Long Beach recently announced that they are implementing an outreach to the homeless with mobile on-the-go vans. These vans are the mobile access centers (MAC). The vans will be going throughout the city, including downtown and North Long Beach. This plan was created because the state of California declared a state of emergency over homelessness.

As of January 2023, there were 3,447 people considered homeless. Compared with the number from 2022, there was a 4.6% increase from the previous year.

 The program was created by the Department of Health and Human Services. It began in January with just one van, and they implemented another unit in September to reach more people. The city schedules the vans to operate Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Then Monday through Wednesday from 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Recently Long Beach was one out of the seven communities picked to get $5.3 million in state grants to help fund more services to the homeless population.

 The purpose behind the mobile unit is to serve as an additional Multi-Service Center. It is the only fixed facility that provides homeless intake services in the city. It also aims to “bridge the accessibility gap to case management services and resources” for the homeless population.

The vans are equipped with public health nurses, as well as workers from the Homelessness Services Bureau. The services offered by the vans are health check-ups, and referrals to social services of housing, and behavioral health programs. Their services also include aiding homeless people to get identification vouchers for those who have lost or have never gotten a California ID. There is also assistance in recovering birth certificates for the homeless.

The program was created to allow the city’s health department to manage a productive outreach to the homeless population in Long Beach. Since January the program has reached out to over 3,000 people. The city stated since the beginning of November slightly more than 900 enrolled to receive ongoing case management and support. There have been 1,683 services provided.

In the month of October alone the MAC program engaged and provided services to 485 individual homeless people. At present the program has engaged and helped over 913 participants find case management support.

Mayor Rex Richardson stated in a press release “We’re proud to continue offering access to life-changing services and connections to resources through our Mobile Access Centers.”

The vans are also able to transport people. They shuttle those in need from the vans to shelter centers. There are two different centers, one for single individuals, seniors or people with disabilities. The second one is for families, they are taken to the city’s Homeless Family Solution Center.

Workers are also tasked with going into the community to alert unhoused people where the MAC centers are located and connect them to the city case manager. The MAC is staffed with outreach workers, public health nurses, and staff from the Fire Department. The city’s Homeless Services Bureau only has two certified social workers on their staff.

There are different programs that also help with the homeless population in Long Beach. There is the Downtown Long Beach Alliance that reaches out “to meet people where they are”, build relationships, and assist people in finding local resources. There is also the Long Beach Rescue Mission.

Both programs are helping the unhoused people find resources to help their situation. While these programs are helpful to the Long Beach community, the MAC program is the only one with accessible on the road vans.

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