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By Priscila Marinez, SPORTS EDITOR
Standing on the corners of street lights begging for spare change. Laying on sidewalks and park benches in the middle of the day. Nowhere to go to call home, be safe, and get care.
Homelessness is a growing concern around the San Francisco Bay Area and the East Bay Area city of Fremont, California has put into place a plan to construct a temporary facility called a navigation center to help assist the homeless.
The City of Fremont has shown interest in taking action against what seems to be a growing homeless population. The navigation center which has set plans to open around mid- 2020 is meant to be a temporary holding place for those who are without housing. These individuals will be provided with medical care and temporary living quarters so that they can get into a more temporary place to stay.
On the city’s website, it lists what services will be provided for those who qualify to use the facility. Adults 18 years or older who can prove they are living in uninhabitable places like a car, street, or abandoned building will be able to see a healthcare professional.
The news was released earlier this year for the plan to put the navigation center in Fremont and its residents had mixed reactions to the news. The reactions are on two different sides of the fence. Some like Amy Chu, a Fremont resident, believes the center will make the area near her home not safe.
“This building will bring suspicious strangers near my home,” said Chu. “I am concerned what people will be arriving and how do I know I will be safe.”
Chu and others in the area that the navigation center is set to be built have safety concerns. The city is aware of these concerns and plans to have 24/7 onsite professionals to watch over and provide care for the navigation center residents. Also, they will be working with Fremont and Newark PD to make sure the community is safe for both homeless individuals and surrounding Fremont residents.
The plan is to build a navigation center that can hold up 45 adults behind Fremont’s City Hall. With the building being close to city officials there will be constant monitoring. Fremont will be able to keep a close eye on the navigation center’s progress and make sure things are safe and that this plan indeed helps the homeless.
There is a parking lot that is located behind City Hall that the navigation center is planned to be built on. East Bay Times said in an article released on Sept. 10th said that the plan is to build it in the parking lot behind City Hall because the homeless are already staying there.
“These folks are already here, they’re already on the street,” said Vice Mayor Raj Salwan in the East Bay Times.
City officials declined to be interviewed for this article.
Not all Fremont residents disagree with the plan for the center. Other residents think the addition of the navigation center will help reduce the number of homeless people they see on the street. Christine Curti, another Fremont resident, believes the navigation center is a plan that is way overdue.
“I have seen homeless sleeping in front of stores and on benches more over the last few years,” said Curtis. “It’s about time this city does something to help these people. It’s sad seeing them out here on the street especially during this time of year when it’s cold and raining.”
Fremont has been tracking the growth of the homeless population since 2017 and Fremont has found that the population of homeless people since 2017 has increased by 27 percent. Due to the high cost of living throughout the Bay Area, people are being displaced from their places of living.
Low-income housing has been turned into luxury housing to accommodate people who work in the tech industry. This leaves people who can’t afford luxury without options for housing.
The plan to build the center includes services like up to six months of housing. One meal a day in addition to kitchenette access in living quarters. There will be storage for belongs, hygiene services, substance abuse services, and housing navigation to help with a lack of housing issues.
The navigation center buildings are constructed to look like little one person shacks that are inhabitable temporarily by those in need. The centers are set to hold up to 45 homeless adults at one time. Individuals who can provide proof of not having established housing will be placed on a list and will be contacted when spaces are available. No walk-ins will be accepted.
The purpose of these temporary facilities is to be able to tend to homeless adults 24/7 to help reduce the number of homeless individuals on the streets and in their cars. And the goal is to get these individuals employment acceptance and transfer the person to a more permanent form of housing like an apartment or assisted living.
The navigation center came after funding from the State of California was approved for addressing the increase in homelessness. Since California is experiencing homelessness throughout the state it decided to establish a Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) in 2017 to slot $500 million to assist in the homeless issue.
Funds were then given to mayors of large urban cities in need of money to help create programs to help the homeless. According to the city of Fremont, Fremont and its neighboring city Newark have combined funds of $2,078,880 to feed directly into the navigation center.
Homeless people like Linda are for now left roaming Fremont looking for a safe place and a hot meal.
“Finally, this city is doing something about people living on the street,’’ said Linda, calls herself Mayor Linda, “Maybe I will get help this time.”
People who are without housing don’t seem to be aware of the development plans for the navigation center. They want to get help but do not know how to properly seek it. The hope is that once construction is approved and the navigation center is on its way to being built, the situation for the homeless begins to see the light at the end of the tunnel.