CARLSBAD — The La Posada de Guadalupe homeless shelter in Carlsbad was approved for $2 million in “seed investment” as the facility prepares for a major upgrade.
The Carlsbad City Council approved two agreements — one with San Diego County and the shelter — during its Feb. 7 meeting.
The city will give the funds to the currently men-only shelter so it can begin a feasibility study and design concepts to add 35 to 50 beds for women and families, according to Catholic Charities CEO Appaswamy “Vino” Pajanor.
In 2013, La Posada completed a major expansion to reach 100 beds. Pajanor said the goal is to eventually double the number of beds from 100 to 200 at the shelter, which opened in 1992 to service farmworkers and migrants by local group Caring Residents of Carlsbad.
“We have seen an increased need for women and women with children in our county,” Pajanor said. “La Posada has the capacity to expand its base. As we look at it … we are looking to add beds for women, women with children and men, too.”
Pajanor said the project’s expected cost is estimated between $5 million to $12 million depending on the scope of work. Before construction starts, the facility must be inspected to determine if specific buildings must be renovated or demolished and rebuilt.
The funds granted to La Posada can only be used for property acquisition and facilities development and may not be used for ongoing shelter operation expenses or indirect costs.
If all goes to plan, Pajanor said the new expansion could be completed in 30 months but acknowledged the project could take up to three or four years.
La Posada, owned by the Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego, will become a “one-stop shop” for homeless clients with a variety of programs and services, such as behavioral health, substance abuse management, case managers, employment training and other wrap-around services.
As construction ramps up, La Posada will explore any additional funding avenues, including government and private grants, donations and partnerships with the business community, Pajanor said.
“Carlsbad has a lot of businesses,” he said. “Maybe we can name a wing after them so we can get people in there.”
In 2021, the City Council approved a work plan to reduce the homeless population and expand the number of beds and services in partnership with Catholic Charities.
“There is a huge need,” said Mandy Mills, the city’s housing and homeless services director. “There is more need to serve families. Being able to expand and serve this population would be critical to our goal.”
Last year, the county allocated $10 million to its Capital Emergency Housing Solutions Grant Program to provide cities with one-time capital funding to create new and permanent emergency shelter solutions, according to the staff presentation. The city applied for the grant in October.
In addition to the recent $2 million allocation to Carlsbad, the county granted a total of $5 million to Oceanside, San Diego and Vista through its emergency grant program.
In fiscal year 2020-21, the city of Carlsbad granted a total of $58,000 through the federal Community Development Block Grant funding to Catholic Charities for architectural and engineering costs to explore adding a second story to the shelter building. The city later increased the block grant funding by an additional $125,000 for these pre-development costs for a total of $173,000.
The Carlsbad City Council also authorized $180,000 per year in funding for three years as a part of its Homelessness Goal Work Plan to enhance the shelter’s clinical services. As part of the funding allocation, the council also included a task to contract with a third-party consultant to provide training and technical assistance to increase the shelter’s capacity to operate as a housing-focused, low-barrier shelter.