LONG BEACH — City Manager James C. Hankla this week questioned whether the city has even a fraction of the number of homeless people estimated by a task force that studied the problem for nearly a year.
The city-appointed task force said in a report released last November that there were about 5,000 homeless people in Long Beach last year.
But Hankla disagrees.
"We believe the number is considerably fewer based on counts of persons who use existing shelters or were issued housing vouchers during recent cold weather, and based on observations by our patrol officers," Hankla wrote in a report to a City Council committee. "Accordingly, I perceive the homeless count to be in the hundreds, not thousands."
Regardless of the number, however, Hankla said that a homeless population is a "serious problem."
During the recent cold snap, Long Beach-based Catholic Charities, San Pedro Pastoral Region, provided the homeless with motel rooms paid for by the county on 13 nights when the weather dipped below 40 degrees. Volunteers gave out an average of 150 vouchers each night, according to Vanessa Romain, Catholic Charities administrative assistant. The most vouchers given out in one day was 237, she said.