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New homeless transition shelter featuring 'tiny homes' opens in Chula Vista

It took just a few seconds to cut the ribbon on a project that’s been years in the making.

“This really is a historic event. It’s the first homeless shelter in all of South County," said Chula Vista Mayor John McCann.

McCann was happy to cut the ribbon at Chula Vista Village at Otay, 65 tiny homes on a lot in the western part of the city.


“What you have is a 64-square foot bungalow," said Angelica Davis, Chula Vista's Homeless Services Manager.

Home interior.jpg
Roland Lizarondo
The interior of one of the tiny homes at Chula Vista Village at Otay is shown on May 11, 2023.

It took a village to bring this village together. Scores of people from federal, state and local governments, along with various for-profit and nonprofit organizations worked together to make this a reality.

But Angelica Davis was at the tip of the spear.

"First and foremost, we want them to know and understand that they have their basic essential needs met," she said.


Residents will receive three meals a day. They can either eat in the cafeteria, or out in one of the common areas. There are bathrooms and showers, and a laundry facility.

Inside the tiny homes, needs are taken care of as well; all the units are heated and air-conditioned, there are outlets for devices and a lamp. All the bedding, lamps and furniture throughout the village was donated by IKEA.

Apart from the obvious benefit of having private space, there is something else unique and wonderful about this shelter: residents can keep their pets with them.

Row with me in it.jpg
Roland Lizarondo
Part of a row of tiny homes at Chula Vista Village at Otay is shown on May 11, 2023.

“We’re trying to eliminate all the barriers, and having them bring their pet, having them bring their belongings, giving them privacy, like I said in individual units is key," Davis said.

She added that having one’s own space brings dignity and safety.

Someone else on hand for the festivities was Sam Alzubaidi. He's worked at the city for 10 years, and is now the Park Ranger Program Manager for Chula Vista.

The idea for helping in a major way germinated with Alzubaidi as he met unsheltered folks in city parks. He partnered with Chula Vista Police in 2016 to form the city’s Homeless Outreach Team.

Thanks to the work of Alzubaidi and scores of others, the idea for Chula Vista Village at Otay took shape, and now it's a reality.

“By doing this, I feel it’s gonna be a huge success for individuals who really want to put their lives back together," Alzubaidi said.

Those individuals will start arriving on Monday to a place dedicated to moving them into permanent housing.