DSHS to close Long Beach Community Services Office permanently on November 30
Access to services in the community still available, uninterrupted
Contact: Norah M. West, 360–902–7833, firstname.lastname@example.org
Long Beach, WASHINGTON — Next month, Washingtonians in the Long Beach area will be able to access services like food, cash and medical benefits and other supports online and over the phone as the Department of Social and Health Services’ brick-and-mortar Long Beach Community Services Office will close permanently on Nov. 30, 2020.
“COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way we gather in public buildings,” noted David Stillman, assistant secretary for the agency’s Economic Services Administration, which administers public benefits. “Because of our commitment to customer service, we have been deliberate and forward-thinking when designing several ways for Long Beach area residents to access services through DSHS. We are confident our decade’s worth of experience with virtual call center services and online access will help make this a successful transition.”
DSHS’ Community Services Division officials began meeting with county commissioners and community leaders in Pacific and Wahkiakum counties in September 2020 to discuss plans to close the Long Beach office. Like all DSHS offices across the state, Long Beach closed to the public in March 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lease DSHS has with the Long Beach building expires at the end of November 2020; other building tenants including the Department of Children, Youth and Families and Employment Security Department will continue to conduct business from this location.
Remote service access has advantages for the public and staff alike.
“In the case of our Long Beach office, we know that our staff have many of the same COVID-19 challenges as other Wahkiakum and Pacific county residents,” said Karma Hendrickson, administrator for the Long Beach and Kelso offices. “They’re also homeschooling children due to school closures and limited child care options. Moving to a virtual model makes sense for everyone involved in this part of the state.”
While DSHS will close the Long Beach office permanently, it will have the DSHS Mobile Community Services Office available at the Coastal Community Action Program, 1505 Pacific Ave. N in Long Beach, for 30 days beginning Dec. 1. Certain in-person essential services will still be provided for people who have a general delivery address to pick up EBT cards and emergency supports. Customers with these needs can call the Customer Service Contact Center at 877–501–2233 to request these services by appointment and staff will make arrangements for customers to pick up at the Mobile CSO site. DSHS is planning with the local health district, hospital and various local community organizations on ways to stay present here in Long Beach several times a week.
Closure of the Long Beach CSO aligns with DSHS’ long-term goal of providing services in more efficient, innovative ways, better meeting its customers’ needs and reducing its brick-and-mortar footprint wherever it makes sense to do so. It also saves the state more than $8,000 a month in lease costs and facility-related expenses in a time when Washington is also facing an unprecedented budget shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Long Beach is one of roughly a dozen closures being considered across the state over the next two budget cycles where closure makes sound business sense and does not unduly impact Washington residents or DSHS staff.
The money saved by closing this office will help reduce the deficit as well as retain necessary staffing and technology to continue to administer essential services and ensure Washingtonians have access to and are eligible for programs like Basic Food benefits, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Aged, Blind or Disabled services/Housing and Essential Needs referrals.
People can access all DSHS’ community services by calling the Customer Service Contact Center at 877–501–2233 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday or going online to WashingtonConnection.org. Complete details about the current service delivery are available on the DSHS website.
Long Beach area community members who have questions or concerns about the closure can send them to Karma Hendrickson at 360–581–8309 or HendrKM@dshs.wa.gov.