The Fullerton Planning Commission voted 4-1 (Carvalho “no”) to approve a conditional use permit to local non-profit Illumination Foundation to operate a 60-bed recuperative care and 90-bed navigation center with wrap-around services within an existing industrial building at 3535 West Commonwealth Avenue, at their December 11 meeting.
A recuperative care facility assists people experiencing homelessness with medical issues who are discharged from a hospital—giving them a place to recover, instead of sending them back onto the streets. The navigation facility would provide shelter and wraparound services to people experiencing homelessness.
Public outreach for the project included two community meetings on November 1 (at the Fullerton Public Library) and November 4 (at Valencia Elementary School).
Illumination Foundation also conducted outreach to the (former) homeless encampment at Gilbert & Valencia and engaged with 20 individuals, of whom 15 have been successfully transitioned to bridge housing.
On November 5, Fullerton City Council voted to provide $500,000 of City funds for the development of the project.
The Illumination Foundation currently runs 6 recuperative care centers—they are the the largest provider of such services in the nation.
The proposed facility will provide 24-hour staffing and security personnel on three shifts. There will be three security guards present during overnight hours (11: 00pm- 7:00am), and two security guards present during the day.
Orange County is in the midst of a homelessness crisis, with the number of unsheltered homeless individuals increasing by 52 percent since the 2017 Point in Time Count. The most recent count determined there were 308 unsheltered individuals experiencing homelessness from Fullerton.
On July 2, 2019 the City Council adopted a resolution declaring a shelter crisis.
Due to Federal Court cases (Martin v. Boise) and the North Orange County Settlement Agreement, the City had been legally prohibited from enforcing restrictions on camping on public property, though recently the City was able to conduct limited enforcement under the auspices of Federal Judge David O. Carter.
Additionally, Fullerton has contributed funds toward the development of navigation centers in Placentia and Buena Park, with expected completion dates in February/March for the Placentia facility and June/July for the Buena Park facility.
The Fullerton facility will not allow walk-up clients to enter. People will only be allowed to enter the facility if they have been referred to the facility by a service provider ( such as City Net, Orange County Health Care Agency, or the City of Fullerton Homeless Liaison officers).
The Planning Commission meeting was packed with residents, business owners, and homeless advocates expressing their views on the proposed project.
Many members of the faith community urged the commission to approve the project.
Some surrounding business owners and residents expressed concern about loss of property values or business.
Owners of Kiddie Learning Academy, a preschool across the street from the proposed project expressed concern over safety.
To address these fears, the Planning Commission added conditions to the agreement that necessitate regular meetings between the Illumination Foundation and surrounding businesses and neighbors to communicate any issues that arise.
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