As the city works to bolster its efforts to combat homelessness in Long Beach, it has awarded two affordable housing developers over $6 million in loans for the construction of nearly 200 units in Downtown and South Wrigley.

The Long Beach Community Investment Company, the city’s nonprofit arm dedicated to supporting affordable housing development, awarded Holos Communities and Jamboree Housing Corp. $4 million and $2.1 million, respectively on Wednesday, according to an announcement released Friday.

“The city is fortunate to have critically needed financial resources and the means available to share them with developers of affordable housing,” Director of Development Services Christopher Koontz said in a statement.

Development Services facilitated the federal funding for Holos through the HOME Investment Partnership Program. The North Hollywood-based nonprofit developer is set to construct 140 one-bedroom rental units at 521 and 527 E. Fourth St.—a vacant building and a fenced-off parking lot.

The project will consist of two buildings, with 75% of units being reserved for people experiencing homelessness.

A separate loan using federal grant funding will allow Irvine-based Jamboree to purchase and develop the vacant property at 101 E. Pacific Coast Highway. The 52 units will be reserved for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Both developments are expected to break ground in the summer of 2024.

“The LBCIC enthusiastically continues to invest in opportunities like these that have the ability to provide housing for Long Beach residents,” LBCIC Chair Mary Castro said in a statement. “These developers are valuable partners—they truly exemplify how the City remains committed to bringing people and communities together.”

The number of unhoused people living on the streets of Long Beach has skyrocketed in recent years, increasing 62% from 2020 to 2022, according to city data. The growth in homelessness has been a cause for concern for some residents and business as well as city agencies. Restaurants have threatened to shut down, and the city’s main library branch temporarily closed due to related safety concerns.

Earlier this month, following community calls for more aggressive action, the Long Beach City Council declared a state of emergency for homelessness during its Jan. 10 meeting. The declaration cuts some red tape, allowing staff to more quickly address the issue.

Later that day, during his first State of the City address, Mayor Rex Richardson pledged to make homelessness one of his office’s primary focuses. Richardson announced the Mayor’s Fund to End Homelessness, which will provide small grants to Long Beach organizations to deliver services such as relocation assistance, shelter, transportation, infrastructure, equipment replacement and move-in assistance.

Housing affordability in Long Beach and across California is a major factor fueling the state’s homeless crisis. Units designated as affordable are subsidized using government funding and are required by law to keep rents low, usually between 30% and 60% of the area median income, or no more than 30% of the resident’s income.

“This funding and key action reflects our sense of urgency to enhance the city’s housing stock and support working families who are most in need,” Richardson said in a statement. “We thank The LBCIC and these development partners who, together, are helping ensure Long Beach has safe, quality affordable housing that meets the needs of our community.”

Long Beach City Council declares state of emergency for homelessness

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.