VISTA — State Sen. Catherine Blakespear presented a $5 million check to Vista and Encinitas leaders on Wednesday that will fund a new homeless shelter serving residents from both cities.
The low-barrier, 24-bedroom Buena Creek Navigation Center in Vista is set to open in early 2024. The $5 million in state budget funds netted by Blakespear (D-Encinitas) will cover three years of operation for the shelter.
Under an agreement signed by the two cities in September, 75% of shelter rooms will be open for Vista residents and 25% for Encinitas residents, and rental costs will also be split 75/25.
City council members from both cities accepted the check outside the two multifamily residential buildings along South Santa Fe Avenue in Vista, where the shelter is planned to operate. A four-bedroom single-family home and detached garage will also be part of the site.
“Both as the former mayor of Encinitas and as a state senator, I understand the importance and value of this project in addressing homelessness in these communities,” Blakespear said. “The unhoused need housing, plain and simple. I am glad I could get this money included in the state budget because this center will make a big difference for Vista and Encinitas.”
City leaders thanked the senator for her work to secure funds for the center, which they emphasized will not only provide much-needed interim housing but also connect clients to resources, including employment, social services and options for permanent housing.
“Acquiring this crucial funding will enable Vista to offer non-congregate emergency shelter, focused on serving those who are ready to find permanent housing,” said Vista Mayor John Franklin. “We call it a ‘Navigation Center,’ because its mission is to help residents along the path to permanent housing. Without this funding, the City’s ability to reliably offer shelter during the current shortage was in jeopardy.”
The addition of the Buena Creek Navigation Center will add to the pool of often-overwhelmed shelters currently operating in North County. The city of Vista currently reimburses other shelters throughout North County to allocate beds to Vista residents.
Both Encinitas and Vista also offer safe parking programs for homeless residents living in their cars to park at night.
“We extend our sincere gratitude to Senator Blakespear for her instrumental role in securing funding for the Navigation Center and for her proactive efforts in tackling homelessness. This collaboration marks a significant step forward in our collective commitment to addressing this critical issue,” said Encinitas Mayor Tony Kranz.
The navigation center will accept pets as well as people’s partners and will provide three meals a day. As a low-barrier shelter, it will not require sobriety for participants to enter, but the use of illegal substances on site will be prohibited.