Chula Vista leaders break ground on city’s first homeless shelter
Mark Diega has been homeless since 2011 and is currently living around San Diego’s South Bay. He wants to be one of the residents at the new homeless shelter in Chula Vista.
“I hope this happens, because there’s a lot of people that need it,” Diega said.
The native South Bay resident said the location had some extra meaning for him.
“This is home to me. I mean I’ve always lived here, went to school here. ... This used to be strawberry fields!” he said.
Local leaders broke ground Thursday on the project, which will include 66 housing units and two multipurpose rooms at a city-owned lot in southern Chula Vista.
This will not be a congregate shelter, meaning that people will be housed in private rooms or tiny houses. That’s another thing Diega likes about it.
Brad Fieldhouse is the president and executive director City Net, the nonprofit organization overseeing the upcoming bridge shelter, which he said would include wraparound services.
“It's a reservation-only system. So it's not a walk up shelter, even though it will be low-barrier, and we’re going to try and get as many people as possible. The more vulnerable, the more we want to make that work,” Fieldhouse said.
The “pallet homes” are prefabricated individual housing units that can accommodate a single person, a couple or four-member family.
Community Through Hope Executive Director Sebastian Martinez said he was cautiously optimistic about the project, but added that more needs to be done. He told KPBS that the pace of people falling into homelessness is growing faster than solutions are coming.
“For people that were on the bubble, that bubble is popping. Week after week, we’re meeting more and more folks who aren't just unsheltered, but either about to be unsheltered due to rents raising, or a lot more folks in their vehicles,” Martinez said.
Fieldhouse said the shelter site would only house adults, not children.
The project will include the installation of restrooms, showers and a laundry facility, with the end goal of getting people permanently rehoused. Construction is planned to be finished late this fall.