Fountain Valley adding dedicated shelter beds in Central Cities Navigation Center partnership

The property at 13871 West St. in Garden Grove being acquired for the proposed Central Cities Navigation Center.
The property at 13871 West St. in Garden Grove being acquired for the proposed Central Cities Navigation Center, which will provide emergency shelter and wraparound services to the unhoused communities of Fountain Valley, Garden Grove and Westminster on Friday in Garden Grove.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Fountain Valley does not have a homeless shelter within the city limits, but the city is working toward ensuring its unhoused will have access to dedicated shelter beds in the future.

The city has entered a partnership 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.

The Fountain Valley City Council on Tuesday evening approved a $940,000 loan from the city’s general fund reserve to its housing authority. The funds will assist with the acquisition of the property, which comes with a price tag of $5.65 million.

The loan will be repaid once Garden Grove has had its housing element certified, Fountain Valley deputy city manager and community development director Omar Dadabhoy said. Fountain Valley has already received certification for its housing element.

Dadabhoy added that the deal to acquire the future navigation center site is expected to close escrow next week.

Additionally, the council passed a memorandum of understanding that states the cities are committing 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 purchasing entity, will have 50 beds, and Westminster will have 22 beds. The facility, which will be stationed on an 18,166-square-foot lot, will serve single adults and couples.

Amenities to be included at the site include separate dormitories for men, women and couples, a kitchen, a laundry room, a dining area and an outdoor space. Services will include one-on-one case management, as well as mental health resources and substance use counseling.

City officials estimate that startup costs for the shelter will be about $13.6 million, including tenant improvements to convert the industrial building into a residential space.

In a letter addressed to Garden Grove City Manager Scott Stiles on Sept. 6, Orange County Chief Executive Frank Kim said he would recommend that the Board of Supervisors make a one-time allocation of $5.3 million to support the navigation center. The county, which requested that the center have a capacity for 100 beds in certain situations, would also make annual contributions of $625,000 for the first 10 years.

Dadabhoy said the city is projected to pay $4.26 million over the first decade for operational costs. Housing authority funds are expected to account for $2.5 million of that total.

“A lot of this is not being funded from the general fund, and we’re using our housing dollars to do it,” Fountain Valley Mayor Patrick Harper said. “… There’s a lot of efforts that are ongoing to really kind of tackle the homelessness issue in Fountain Valley. This is another step that we can take as a city to tackle the problem and help break the cycle of homelessness.”

The city plans to have an informational meeting regarding the Central Cities Navigation Center on Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. at the Fountain Valley Recreation Center.

Fountain Valley brought in City Net to help interface with its homeless community. In a presentation before the council on Tuesday, Police Chief Matt Sheppard said calls for service for related issues are still expected to mark an increase over last year. The city, which has utilized the Yale Navigation Center in Santa Ana, has had 36 street exits (individuals put into housing) since bringing on City Net in April, Sheppard said.

Sheppard also shared that the city had 38 unsheltered homeless individuals identified in its Point in Time count this year, up from 28 in 2019.

“We don’t have dedicated bed space at the shelters throughout Orange County, so that keeps us from using the one tool that we don’t like to use, and that’s the enforcement side,” said Sheppard, who has repeatedly advocated for outreach and engagement with the unhoused. “You got to have bed space available to your city, dedicated to the city of Fountain Valley, before you can utilize your enforcement actions to help people move along.

“… We don’t like to use the arrest, but sometimes, some individuals need that … leverage over them to help them make that decision that, ‘… Maybe I need to start accepting services and move into the [support] system.’”

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