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Community Issues Forum to Address Health, Homelessness

Published: April 15, 2010

About 200 high school and college students, families, educators and community members will discuss health and homelessness in Long Beach at the seventh annual Community Issues Forum on Friday, April 23, at CSULB.

Students, faculty and staff from CSULB and the Long Beach Unified School District, Sen. Alan Lowenthal and leaders from community organizations such as U.S. VETS and the YMCA will address health challenges, resource and educational issues, as well as stigmas and biases affecting homeless youth, families, and veterans. Participants will meet in groups to discuss support structures, family challenges, and educational implications related to community health and homelessness. They will also watch a scene from a documentary being created by anthropology professor Scott Wilson on homelessness in Long Beach.

“Each year this important event addresses some of the most critical issues in Long Beach and the surrounding communities,” said Juan Benitez, Director of the Center for Community Engagement, which organizes the event along with the Committee for Community Collaboration. “The Committee for Community Collaboration chose the topic of community health and homelessness in hopes of raising awareness and promoting sensitivity toward homelessness in our community.”

Nearly 4,000 people were homeless in Long Beach in January 2009, according to the City of Long Beach’s most recent statistics. About 1,260 individuals confirmed by self-report that they have experienced homelessness for more than one year, up from 1,056 in 2005.

In the past, the Community Issues Forum has strengthened ties to surrounding communities, shaped policy decisions and resulted in action plans to enhance youth identity, improve race relations and help students become successful in school.

This year’s forum will take place from 8:15 a.m.–2 p.m. at The Pointe in the Pyramid at CSULB. It is being sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Division of Student Services, CSULB’s Center for Community Engagement, CSULB’s Mi Casa Mi Universidad, Verizon, the Office of Senator Alan Lowenthal and the Long Beach Unified School District.

–Linda Fontes