Fremont, CA, September 2020 – Bay Area Community Services (BACS) today announced that the first residents of its new Fremont Housing Navigation Center (HNC) moved out of homelessness and into the program. The HNC, located near Fremont City Hall, is a pivotal partnership between the City of Fremont and BACS to address the city’s homelessness crisis by providing unhoused community members with rapid re-housing services and a path to securing permanent housing.
The HNC model acts as a clean, safe, calm, and flexible environment that enables unhoused community members to rebuild their lives and with a supported and determined focus on finding stable, permanent housing. The program was designed for 45 people at a time, which has been temporarily limited to a reduced 25 participants in order to comply with the best practices for COVID-19 safety while serving as many people as possible. Once the pandemic ends and restrictions are lifted, BACS intends to open the program at full capacity.
Today, the first cohort of people moved in to the HNC. One HNC resident has been homeless 5 years and has been living their car until today. BACS will continue to move in residents in small groups to maximize COVID-19 safety, and anticipates reaching capacity next week.
“BACS is very honored to rapidly open its door to the Fremont Community and to do so with care, courage, and special attention paid to keep our community members, staff, and all of us safe during COVID,” said Jamie Almanza, MBA, CEO of BACS. “The phased opening took in to account locating and intensively outreaching to individuals and inviting them to come inside. I am so appreciative to the Mayor, City Council, City Employees, Community Based Organizations – everyone – for this tremendous milestone in the City and neighboring Cities history.”
The Program Model
This is a “low-barrier” shelter, meaning there are no curfews, people do not have to be sober to stay there, they can bring their pets, and there is storage for accumulated belongings. BACS seeks to support individuals in building and maintaining their independence, in a nurturing environment. Unlike the “shelter” model, people can sleep as long as they like, and there are no strict times people have to be on or off site. There are casual places to sit, and plants, trees, and murals. There are washers and dryers, bathrooms with showers, and a common room with a mini-kitchen.
We envision a world where all people are healthy, safe, and engaged in community wellness, with access to quality housing. When an individual moves in, our determined focus is on finding housing, and the entire team creates a culture of assuming that housing will be found. While participants are getting back on their feet, finding sustainable jobs, getting mental and physical healthcare supports, connecting with benefits, and re-adjusting to living inside, BACS’ Housing Specialists work on housing solutions in the community.
Meeting the Rising Need in Fremont
Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis that will not improve without innovative approaches. The City of Fremont, with historic leadership from Mayor Lily Mei and the Fremont City Council, has committed to a comprehensive and innovative plan to significantly reduce homelessness within the community, based in local models and data that have proven effectiveness. The City of Fremont’s Human Services Department has closely coordinated with the Fremont Police Department, BACS, the City of Berkeley, volunteers across Fremont, and community supporters to ensure the program is operational and on schedule.
According to the annual Alameda County Point-in-Time Count & Survey from 2019, homelessness in Fremont rose 27% from 2017 to 2019, and determined that 485 of the 608 homeless participants were unsheltered. Currently, in Alameda County, for every homeless person who finds permanent housing three more individuals are becoming unhoused. Homelessness will only end with mobilization from local governments, and the City of Fremont is showing great leadership in tackling homelessness through sustainable solutions.
The City projects a total of $9.47 million in HNC funding from state, county, and City-led programs to run the Center for the first three years. Beyond 2023, the City will evaluate the program to further extend the operation for additional years, contingent upon future funding opportunities. A breakdown of total funding for the HNC includes: $1.47 million from Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP); $100,000 from California Emergency Solution and Housing (CESH); up to $1.76 million from the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) Program; $1.93 million in Permanent Local Housing Allocation (PLHA) authorized by the Building Homes and Jobs Act (SB2, 2017); $3.24 million in City funds from the unspent portion of the one-time homeless General Fund dollars appropriated by the City Council in FY 2017/18, as well as the unallocated balance in the City-Funded Affordable Housing Fund; $320,000 annually from the Alameda County Social Services Agency; and $31,000 from community contributions. This project was approved unanimously by the City Council in 2019.
About Bay Area Community Services
Bay Area Community Services (BACS) provides innovative behavioral health and housing services for teens, adults, older adults, and their families across the Bay Area. BACS’ mission is to uplift under-served community members and their families by doing whatever it takes.
Since its founding in 1953, BACS has become a local leader in homelessness prevention programs, facing the housing crisis head on through rapid re-housing, targeted outreach for people experiencing homelessness and support navigating the web of services, purchasing housing across the Bay Area to house people who would otherwise be homeless, and much more. BACS also provides recovery-oriented behavioral health services. To learn more, go to www.bayareacs.org
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