Fountain Valley does not have a homeless shelter within the city limits, but the city is working to ensure that its homeless people will have access to dedicated shelter beds in the future.
The city has partnered with the neighboring cities of Garden Grove and Westminster to facilitate the creation of the Central Cities Navigation Center.
A parcel at 13871 West St. in Garden Grove has been identified for the development and operation of the Navigation Center.
Fountain Valley City Council on Tuesday night approved a $940,000 loan from the city’s general fund reserve to its housing authority. The funds will help acquire the property, which costs $5.65 million.
The loan will be repaid once Garden Grove has its housing component certified, said Fountain Valley City Assistant Manager and Community Development Manager Omar Dadabhoy. Fountain Valley has already received certification for its housing component.
Dadabhoy added that the agreement to acquire the future navigation center site is expected to close next week.
In addition, the council has adopted a memorandum of understanding which stipulates that the cities commit to supporting the operation of the center for at least the next 10 years.
Plans for the Navigation Center include 85 shelter beds – 13 of which will be designated for use by Fountain Valley. Garden Grove, the procuring entity, will have 50 beds, and Westminster will have 22 beds. The facility, which will be located on an 18,166 square foot lot, will serve single adults and couples.
Amenities to include on site include separate male, female, and couples dorms, kitchen, laundry, dining, and outdoor space. Services will include individual case management, as well as mental health resources and addictions counselling.
City officials estimate start-up costs for the shelter will be around $13.6 million, including tenant improvements to convert the industrial building into residential space.
In a letter to Garden Grove City Manager Scott Stiles on Sept. 6, Orange County Chief Executive Frank Kim said he would recommend the Board of Supervisors award a one-time $5, $3 million to support the navigation center. The county, which has requested that the center have a capacity of 100 beds in certain situations, would also make annual contributions of $625,000 for the first 10 years.
Dadabhoy said the city would have to pay $4.26 million in the first decade for running costs. Housing authority funds are expected to account for $2.5 million of that total.
“A lot of this is not funded from the general fund, and we’re using our housing dollars to do that,” Fountain Valley Mayor Patrick Harper said. “…There are a lot of efforts going on to really tackle homelessness in Fountain Valley. This is another step we can take as a city to address the issue and help break the cycle of homelessness.
The city plans to hold an information meeting regarding the Central Cities Navigation Center on Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. at the Fountain Valley Recreation Center.
Fountain Valley turned to City Net for help interface with its homeless community. In a presentation to council on Tuesday, Chief Constable Matt Sheppard said calls for service for related issues are still expected to mark an increase from last year. The city, which used the Yale Navigation Center in Santa Ana, has had 36 street exits (individuals placed in housing) since introducing City Net in April, Sheppard said.
Sheppard also said the city had 38 homeless people identified in its point-in-time count this year, up from 28 in 2019.
“We don’t have dedicated bed space in shelters in Orange County, which prevents us from using the one tool we don’t like to use, and that’s the app side,” said Sheppard, who has repeatedly advocated for awareness. and engagement with the homeless. “You need to have bed space available in your town, dedicated to the town of Fountain Valley, before you can use your enforcement measures to help people get around.
“…We don’t like to use arrest, but sometimes some people need that…pressure them to help them make that decision that, ‘…Maybe I have to start accept services and move into the [support] system.'”