Fullerton’s Navigation Center (homeless shelter with social services), which opened in 2020 and recently closed to Fullerton’s homeless due to a lack of funding, will see at least six more months of operation, as the City looks for a more permanent source of funding.
City Council voted 4-0 (Whitaker “abstain”) at their November 19 meeting to allocate $1,272,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to keep the Navigation Center running.
The Navigation Center, which is operated by Illumination Foundation, is located at 3535 W. Commonwealth Ave. in a 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.
Fullerton had been funding the Navigation Center with County and federal funds; however, those funds have run out. Consequently, the City cannot utilize the shelter’s beds and residents were moved to other shelters in the area. The building is currently owned by a third party who charges the City an annual rent of $543,700 for its use. The City has a Lease Guarantee on the building for Illumination Foundation.
When the Navigation Center was first approved by City Council in 2020, there were no ongoing operating funds included. The City provided $500,000 for improvements to the building.
Fullerton has very recently received a $4 million grant from the State for potential purchase of Navigation Center building, which would stabilize costs long-term.
Mayor Bruce Whitaker, who abstained from voting on the temporary funding, said that when he voted for funding for the shelter, it was never explained that the City would have ongoing costs. He expressed concern about the City’s existing budget issues.
“I think it’s commendable,” Whitaker said. “I think these people need help. But the traditional avenues [for funding] have been federal, state, and the County.”
Mayor Pro Tem Nick Dunlap, who made the motion to allocate the shelter funds, said, “I support the six months and would like to see the City get funding from other sources in order to make that permanent.”
Councilmember Fred Jung said, “We have a moral responsibility as a city to help find resolutions to assist our unhoused population.”
“This is something our city has committed to—helping our residents who are experiencing homelessness,” Councilmember Jesus Silva said.
According to Fullerton’s Deputy Director of Community & Economic Development Kellee Fritzal, when the Navigation Center was in operation, it had the following results:
• Three people reunited with family
• Six people permanently housed
• Three people moved to a single-family home setting for a higher level of care
• Three people moved to transitional programs
• Twenty people obtained housing vouchers and are in the process of finding housing.
In recent years, California counties and cities have seen an ongoing increase in homelessness. According to the Point in Time Count numbers, Fullerton’s unsheltered population doubled from 149 in 2017 to 308 in 2019. That number is likely higher today.
Categories: Local News