Due to a lack of funding, residents at Fullerton’s Navigation Center (homeless shelter) are being moved to other shelters in the area.
“The city of Fullerton allocated $440,000 of [Federal] funds for approximately 3.5 months of full occupancy of the shelter,” Fullerton’s Deputy Director of Community & Economic Development Kellee Fritzal told The Observer. “Our 3.5 months of funding recently ended. Due to the lack of funding, the shelter residents are being placed in other shelters within the North Service Planning (SPA) area. The City is looking at options for funding of the Fullerton Shelter.”
The Navigation Center, which is operated by Illumination Foundation, is located at 3535 W. Commonwealth Ave. in a 15,700-square-foot former commercial building near the Fullerton airport. The center was designed to house up to 90 adults experiencing homelessness, with an additional 60 beds for adults in need of recuperative care as they recover from surgery and other critical hospital care.
Terry Campbell, Vice President of Marketing & Communications with Illumination Foundation, said that no residents are being put out on the streets, but acknowledged that residents are being moved to other shelters.
“We are working with the City to find appropriate shelters as needed,” Campbell said.
Nineteen of the homeless residents at the Navigation Center have ties to Fullerton. These people are being moved to one of three other shelters in the area, in Buena Park, Placentia, and Anaheim.
Fritzal said the Recuperative Care side of the shelter (60 beds) is still functioning because it is occupied through Medicare patients placed by the local hospitals; some of these are Fullerton residents.
The Navigation Center opened in August 2020. In December 2020, it was used as a COVID-only site as cases among the homeless were spreading in shelters throughout the County. Following a temporary closure in 2021, there was a grand re-opening and ribbon cutting in April 2021.
Acting City Manager Steve Danley said the City had hoped that Illumination Foundation would seek out additional County/State/Federal grants to continue the operations of the Shelter after the funds were exhausted.
The City has very recently received a $4 million grant from the State for potential purchase of Navigation Center building, which would stabilize costs long term. The building is currently owned by a third party who is charging rent for its use, according to Fritzal.
Purchase of the building would require City Council approval.
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding could also be applied to operating the Navigation Center, according to Fritzal.
When approached for comment by The Observer, some City Council members said they had not been informed about the lapse in funding for the Navigation Center.
“I find it troubling that considering the unanimous support from Council to fund the Navigation Center and the Council’s ongoing commitment to help and support those in need, I am finding out about this issue for the first time from you and not from staff in either a Council meeting or other memo,” Mayor Pro Tem Nick Dunlap told The Observer. “I look forward to receiving a full download from staff and will work to ensure that there is no lapse in service or coverage for the community.”
Councilmember Fred Jung said, “Acquiring funding for the Navigation Center is a priority for everyone on the Council. We will work with our local and State representatives to find long-term solutions accordingly. And I look forward to being an integral part of that process.”
At the request of Councilmember Ahmad Zahra, City Council will receive an update from staff on this topic at their November 2 meeting, which will take place at 6:30pm at Fullerton City Hall.
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