By Amir Ghani/Orange County Tribune
Four million dollars to help purchase and operate a “navigation center” to address the homeless population was approved unanimously by the Westminster City Council Wednesday night.
This money would come from the city’s general fund reserves account and help to support the center for the next 10 years. The general fund would be reimbursed from ARPA funds.
The new navigation center would assist the homeless located in and around Westminster, Garden Grove, and Fountain Valley. The building itself is an industrial warehouse and is located in Garden Grove. This means Garden Grove will act as the lead agency for the center and will be responsible for maintenance and any possible upgrades that may be needed.
“This [navigation center] is that stepping stone for us to be able to help so that they can move on to something more. Either their own housing or a new shelter,” said Christine Cordon, city manager.
The building has the capacity to hold 85 beds and serve up to 100 individuals that may be in need. Westminster is allotted 20 beds for the 150 homeless individuals living in the city. The beds are also only available for adults.
In addition to these sleeping spaces, other amenities available would include a laundry room, a kitchen, a dining area, and additional resources regarding mental health, substance abuse, and educational services.
Orange County has committed $11.3 million to the project, which leaves Westminster’s share at around $7.1 million. The $11.3 million will be broken up into an initial contribution of $5.3 million with a recurring contribution of $625,000 for the next ten years. Annually, the operating cost is estimated to be around $495,000.
Councilmember Kimberly Ho was wary about the amount of money being spent, making sure that after the 10-year period, the property would still belong to all cities that invested.
As outlined in the proposal, the navigation center is committed to community communication and will keep in touch with its neighbors on a regular basis. This ensures the community will remain educated and aware of the center.
Now that the proposal has been approved, the city will begin to allocate funds and move to draft a final, more comprehensive memorandum of understanding between all cities involved in the project. This memorandum of understanding would then be presented to the city council in the near future.
“Hopefully once this center is up and running, [homeless] people won’t choose to congregate around Westminster,” said Councilmember Tai Do.