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By Harry Saltzgaver
After a $2 million renovation, the city’s Multi-Service Center (MSC) reopens today to resume the job of helping the homeless.
Long Beach’s MSC has been cited as a national model for providing a continuum of care for the homeless. The building in west Long Beach is on Port of Long Beach land and houses city and county offices as well as 10 other nonprofits providing services to help get people off the street and back into society.
The center closed in March for construction. It reopened in early November, but construction wasn’t completed until this week.
Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Social Services has an office at the MSC, and the county provided the $2 million for the renovation. Long Beach pitched in with $150,000 specifically for technology upgrades.
“This revitalized facility promotes connectivity to local and regional resources and brings together stakeholders to effectively address homelessness,” Fourth District County Supervisor Don Knabe said in a release. Knabe’s office was the conduit for funding, and Knabe was central to the creation of the nearby Mary McLeod Bethune Transitional Center for Homeless Students.
Long Beach’s Health and Human Services Department operates the MSC. It is designed to match people with the appropriate services and resources while making it easier for multiple agencies to work together.
“Collectively, we are rebuilding lives, one person at a time, one day at a time,” Kelly Colopy, director of Health and Human Services, said in a release. “We are optimistic for the future of this center in achieving a Healthier Long Beach for all.”
The six-month renovation increases the MSC’s capacity with a redesigned floor plan that expands the medical clinic as well as classrooms and community rooms. Safety features were added throughout, as well as the technology upgrades.
“The Multi-Service Center is a critical resource for those who are at-risk or experiencing homelessness in Long Beach,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “Today, we recognize the collaborative work of our partners and community members who continue to improve the quality of life of those most in need.”
The MSC averages 26,000 visits a year. One visit can include connections with several service providers. That partnering approach is a key to the continuum of care’s success.
“Comprehensive, holistic solutions are extremely critical to solving the issue of homelessness,” First District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez said. “The MSC’s collaborative approach enables the partner agencies to connect people to the resources they need, including mental health and overall health services.”
The MSC is at 1301 W. 12th St. It first opened in 1999. In the period between 2007 and 2013, the number of formerly homeless people off the street and in emergency Shelters, transitional housing and permanent supported housing has increased from 1,679 to 2,508
In addition to the city and the county, the agencies housed at the center are the Alliance for Housing and Healing, Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, Goodwill Serving the People of Southern Los Angeles County, Help Me Help You, Interval House, Mental Health America of Los Angeles, PATH, The Children’s Clinic Serving Children and Their Families, U.S. Veterans Initiative and VA Long Beach Healthcare.