Fremont opens 1st homeless navigation center after months of debate

ByJulian Glover and Andrew Morris KGO logo
Monday, August 31, 2020
Fremont opens 1st homeless navigation center
The new homeless navigation center facility, designed to house and sleep about 45 people, is located in a parking lot behind Fremont City Hall, but will be at limited capacity due to COVID-19.

FREMONT, Calif. (KGO) -- Following the lead of its bigger San Francisco and Oakland neighbors, the city of Fremont is opening a new homeless navigation center, as the first in the southern part of the Bay Area.

The new navigation center is designed to house around 45 residents, but will be limited to a 25 person capacity, due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

RELATED: Coronavirus Pandemic: San Francisco reports 1st COVID-19 case in homeless shelter

City leaders expect the facility, located in a parking lot behind Fremont City Hall, to start housing residents sometime in September for up to six months, based on the resident's needs. The center plans to be operating for up to three years, with the potential of five years, depending on how much funding is provided.

Local officials hope it can offer a variety of beneficial services for the hundreds of homeless who have been spending their nights in tents, RVs or sleeping bags around town.

"No one person should have to go without basic needs, and with hundreds of our community members unhoused, the City of Fremont has made it a high priority to help these individuals with essential resources through programs like this Center," said Fremont Mayor Lily Mei.

"Our housing navigation center is a critical component of our larger plan to minimize homelessness in Fremont."

If it works, Fremont leaders want it to serve as the proud model for other nearby cities to emulate as a working solution for the Bay Area's housing crisis.

RELATED: Building a Better Bay Area: The Housing Shift

However, the idea for a new navigation center had initially come with some pushback. Like the early criticisms that came when San Francisco and Oakland opened their first navigation centers, some Fremont residents had voiced safety concerns and that the $7.7 million in costs could be put to other rental subsidies and homeless programs, according to the Mercury News.

However, Fremont officials project a total of $9.47 million in funding from state, county, and City-led programs to run the center for the first three years.

The city of Fremont plans to live stream a virtual open house event to official unveil the new homeless center, on the city's website, on August 31 at 6 p.m.

RELATED: Embarcadero Navigation Center: Neighbors, tenants share mixed feelings about shelter since one month opening