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New 48-bed homeless shelter opens in North County

On a residential street just outside of Vista city limits, near a SPRINTER train station, a newly opened homeless shelter is taking in its first residents.

“We have our first couple here today. By the end of today we will have eight people onsite,” said Hannah Gailey, executive director of the nonprofit Retread Housing Services, which will manage the 48-bed Buena Creek Navigation Center.

Three-quarters of the beds at the center will be for Vista residents, and the rest are for those from Encinitas.


Gailey said residents will be connected with services like substance abuse help and mental health providers with the ultimate goal of permanent or transitional housing.

The center is funded by the cities of Encinitas and Vista and $5 million in state funds obtained by state Sen. Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas.

Vista Mayor John Franklin said the center is a bit of an experiment, both because of how it's funded and physically set up.

“It does look and feel like a home,” he said. “One of the things I’m excited about is to be able to show the people we’re reaching out to that are living on the street what a wonderful place we’re offering here. That it's different than other places they may have been in the past.”

It’s a low barrier, non-congregate shelter, said Vista Deputy Mayor Katie Melendez.


That means there’s some privacy, with two or three beds in each room, and people don't have to be sober outside of the facility.

“Providing shelter and housing does accomplish the aim of having safety in our community,” Melendez said.

She hopes the low-barrier approach helps to reach a larger amount of the homeless population.

“When people enter this Buena Creek Navigation Center they will be in a dignified environment, with all the privacy, resources and support they need in order to fully rehabilitate,” Melendez said.

The facility is for adults referred by homeless outreach teams from Encinitas and Vista.

Gailey said the center is modeled after the recently opened Oceanside Navigation Center, and it should be completely full in the next couple of weeks.

“A success would be getting someone to agree to a long term drug and alcohol recovery program. A success would be if someone got their EBT, and their benefits and job and was able to find a room to rent,” she said.

Clients can stay as long as 120 days, but Gailey said many are expected to be able to exit the center earlier.

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