The Illumination Foundation hosted a community meeting at the library at 5pm on Friday November 1 to answer residents’ questions about a Fullerton Shelter providing Recuperative Care for 60 people experiencing homelessness and a Navigation Center for 90 people experiencing homelessness at 3535 W Commonwealth Ave. Those from Fullerton will have priority to be referred to the facility.
The former 15,700 sq. ft. DNG Engineering building has been selected as the proposed home of the Illumination Foundation Navigation Center.
The 24-hour facility will be fenced and residents will be transported to and from the facility by vehicles. No walk-ins or walk-outs will be allowed. People disabled by addiction will be moved to other county programs if they use. People with severe mental health issues will be moved to more appropriate facilities in the county if they cannot be stabilized through medication.
Recuperative Care residents will be referred to the shelter by hospitals and other qualifying medical professionals and while at the Center will receive medical oversight, behavioral therapy, and substance abuse counseling. The Navigation Center will provide access to benefits, employment services, and connections to other services. Residents will transition to long term housing as appropriate for their abilities.
The property near the airport was purchased by an anonymous donor for $3.6 million 2 weeks ago and the location had been withheld from the public throughout the negotiating process until now. The City Council will be voting at the November 5 Meeting on whether to approve $500,000 of housing funds to be allocated for the shelter, not to approve the shelter location and use–which will be voted on at a later meeting.
The Illumination Foundation has been running the La Mesa Shelter in Anaheim in partnership with the Salvation Army. They shelter an average of 97 people, about 2/3 are women, with “zero incidents,” said Yvette Ahlstrom, VP of Expansion and Programming for Illumination Foundation. They run 16 facilities throughout the county mostly without anyone noticing they are there, according to Ahlstrom.
The Orange County Continuum of Care prioritizes people in shelters for housing as part of their Coordinated Entry System. While in the shelters, individuals receive a “vulnerability index survey” and are “loaded into the system” along with their documents in preparation for housing.
No drugs are allowed. Behavioral health therapists are on site, a medical van comes twice a week, and Cal Optima comes twice a month. The shelter provides 3 meals a day. There are accommodations for pets, including flea treatments and spaying or neutering.
Gaby Garcia, Director of United for Kids After School Program and a Community Organizer for United way, said she is organizing Valencia Park residents to come to the City Council Meeting to support the shelter, but the residents have questions. They had just learned on Friday that the shelter would be near their apartments.
Representatives from the Illumination Foundation said they were walking door to door to notify residents. They also said that the preschool across the street from the shelter will not be impacted because residents of the shelter will not be outside and will only be driven in or out of the shelter and smoking will be in the back.
Shelter residents will stay 90 days or longer if needed before being placed in permanent supportive housing, a rental on their own or with a housing voucher, a board and care facility, a skilled nursing facility, or placed with a family member. Some individuals, however, may be back on the street if they choose to leave.
For those who are able, Chrysalis will provide job training. Life skills, resumes, interview practice, appropriate clothing will be available to help get people working again.
Illumination Foundation President and CEO, Paul Leon, said that approving the shelter will allow the police to enforce Fullerton’s anti-camping law and that Judge Carter will reduce the number of beds the has to provide from 600 to 150. The county will continue to fund the shelter long term after city stops funding it. He said this shelter is “an opportunity that probably won’t come again” and the foundation has “plenty of other cities to go to.”
Residents asked why they city waited so long to tell the residents where it would be and “why on this side (of the city)?” The response from the foundation was for residents to ask their city council. But they “promised” that the Illumination Foundation “understands their concerns.”
The city council declared a crises that will allow them to move the approval process faster than usual. The Public Hearing for a Conditional Use Permit will be early next year with a targeted opening date in spring or summer of 2020
Leon said the Illumination Foundation became involved when the City approached the foundation because, “We were better equipped to do this.” Their long term plan for the city is to close the shelter and possibly run micro communities of 6 people throughout the city as they currently do throughout Orange County, but not in Fullerton, to house 1,000 formerly homeless people.
For more information and to request a tour of facilities run by the Illumination Foundation email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 949-273-0555.