On Tuesday, June 18, 2019, the Fremont City Council held a Work Session to discuss an update on strategies and priorities to address homelessness. City staff presented an overview of ongoing efforts to reduce homelessness since 2017, provide an update on homeless count data for Alameda County and Fremont, and review state funding opportunities to support homeless mitigation efforts. City staff concluded the presentation with an update on siting a navigation center and the proposed criteria to use when evaluating potential locations.
Every two years the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires counties and local jurisdictions across the country to count homeless persons within their boundaries. In the Bay Area, this year’s point-in-time count took place on January 30. EveryOne Home, the non-profit agency that conducts the count and helps in developing countywide strategies to end homelessness in Alameda County, recently released the 2019 countywide point-in-time figures. In Alameda County, 8,022 individuals were counted as homeless, which represents a 43% increase from 5,629 in 2017. The 2019 count nearly doubles the number of homeless from 2015, which was 4,040. In Fremont, preliminary data counted 608 unhoused residents, a 21% increase from 2017, which was 479.
In response to the growing number of unhoused residents in Fremont and direction from the City Council at a previous Council meeting on July 17, 2018, City staff presented the framework for a temporary navigation center and recommended initial criteria for siting a center within Fremont at the June 18 Work Session meeting. A navigation center provides a clean, safe, calm and flexible environment that allows homeless persons to rebuild their lives and intensely focus on the job of finding stable permanent housing. Participants are accepted into the center after outreach and intake, and generally stay six months or less, before finding a permanent placement. This model has been proven successful in the Bay Area through the City of Berkeley STAIR Center, a housing navigation center that has been in operation for more than a year with 82% of individuals exiting the STAIR Center moving into permanent housing.
The meeting was well attended by community members and the Council heard more than 75 speakers regarding homelessness and a navigation center. After public comment, the City Council reaffirmed the decision to create a navigation center and directed staff to move forward with analyzing both City-owned and privately-owned sites based on the recommended criteria. While considering potential locations, City staff will use an objective criteria process taking into consideration:
- At least 16,000 square feet
- A slope less than 5% area of buildable footprint
- Not developed parkland or property that has approved and funded projects by the City Council
- Immediate availability
- Availability for a period up to five years
- Within 0.50 miles of food services
- Within 0.50 miles of bus stop
- Bus service with access to BART
- Utility connection points abut property
- Located outside of fault trace zone
- No known significant environmental issues exist
City staff will return to Council on July 9, 2019 with results from the analysis and present multiple locations for consideration by Council. At the July 9 City Council meeting, the Council will select a limited number of sites for further analysis and staff will conduct community outreach and a deeper analysis for each site throughout the summer. After analysis and community outreach is completed, the City Council will select a final site during a September Council Meeting (date not confirmed yet) to move forward with, and City staff will immediately proceed with procurement of contracts to implement the navigation center.
Watch the recording of the June 18 City Council Work Session
Access copies of the full staff report and presentation