View through the fence of the Chula Vista Village at Otay, a 65 white, prefab shelter units for the homeless on July 18, 2023.
The Chula Vista Village at Otay on July 18, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Two months after the city of Chula Vista opened its first homeless shelter, less than a third of the 65 prefabricated units are in use because the site is capped at serving 20 clients at a time. 

Chula Vista Village in Otay is a major part of the city’s efforts to move people off the street. The exact number of clients staying at the shelter ranges from five to 20 people daily, a city official said. 

It’s unclear exactly how many people the shelter has served to date.

City officials and shelter operator City Net would not comment on the exact number of people currently staying at the shelter or how many people have transitioned to more permanent housing.  

Angelica Davis, Chula Vista’s housing and homeless solutions manager, said the site can only serve 20 clients at a time because of ongoing plumbing and electrical projects. These projects, she explained, were stalled due to supply chain issues from the Covid-19 pandemic. If it weren’t for those issues, Davis said, the shelter could have been opened in March or April.

View through the fence of the Chula Vista Village at Otay, a 65 white, prefab shelter units for the homeless on July 18, 2023.
View through the fence of the Chula Vista Village at Otay on July 18, 2023. The site has 65 white, prefabricated shelter units for the homeless. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

By the middle of next week, Davis hopes all units will be available. This does not mean, however, that all 65 units will be occupied by then. The shelter employs four case managers who can do five to six intakes a day, Davis said.

“We don’t want to do 65 intakes in one day,” Davis said. “It would be tricky for me to say when the shelter will be at full capacity. Timing depends on each client and how much help they need.”  

It took a long time and $5 million in government funding for the city to open its shelter. Chula Vista Mayor John McCann told Voice of San Diego last year that the shelter would be open by January of this year – it began accepting clients on May 15.

Per the January 2023 point-in-time count there were 318 unsheltered people living in Chula Vista, the second largest city in the county. This project is a new endeavor for the city, which only established its department of housing and homeless solutions six months ago.

The village contains 64-square-feet prefabricated units equipped with heating and air conditioning, power outlets, a lamp and two twin beds. 

The city’s Homeless Outreach Team refers clients to the shelter. Davis said the team prioritizes unsheltered Chula Vista residents city staff know who have been chronically homeless and are committed to changing their situation.

City Net shelter manager Andy Valdez shared some insight into how the shelter operates. 

Each of the case managers can handle up to six intakes a day and the length of time it takes for clients to transition in and out, he said, depends on each client’s needs. His goal is to transition residents into permanent housing within 90 days. He would not say if there were requirements for clients, but that clients are not allowed to use drugs or alcohol on the premises. 

Being committed, Davis explained, means that someone wants to change their situation and is willing to work with case management. 

Clients who make it through the vetting process and move into the village are required to agree to a set of conduct rules. Valdez and Davis declined to share the conduct rules.

If a client agrees to and can adhere to the rules of conduct, Valdez said, they are provided case management through City Net. Services provided include three meals a day plus snacks, connections with medical and mental health care providers and job training while at the shelter. 

Kathryn Gray is a Voice of San Diego intern.

Join the Conversation


  1. Dan Smiechowski likes “Tiny Homes” but advocates for more mental wards and drug treatment. Dan Smiechowski for San Diego Mayor. Happy to be ignored by all of you important powerful Americans.

  2. I would like information on how to get into the new shelter in Chula Vista. At the moment I’m living out of my car .

  3. Example #5,000,000 of why the .Gov should never be in charge of anything.
    Still blaming COVID for their failure to build even TINY homes – and they don’t even have to fight the permitting process.

  4. It seems like a Catch 22 for homeless who want to occupy the
    the tiny homes at the Otay Village Bridge Shelter.
    The City won’t divulge the occupancy requirements, but others have said the homeless must have a credit score over 550 and not own/have a car. The aim is to have homeless who are ready to occupy a low cost residence immediately should it become available.
    The people living in their car that make up 75% of the homeless are the ones who have a job and could possibly meet the requirements, but won’t be accepted. The 23% who are mentally ill (8%), addicts (2%) or chronically homeless (15%) will also not qualify. These are the people screaming in the libraries and scaring mothers. They need emergency mental health services that do not exist before they could be accepted by the Bridge Shelter. So, all the money being spent is not providing the benefit to nearly as many homeless as hoped for, nor to the community, businesses or families requesting relief.

  5. Strange article. why the secrecy about operations policies? isn’t this a public/gov’t program open to scrutiny? you don’t even mention where the location of “Chula Vista Village” is! Otay is pretty big!

  6. This is a high barrier to entry shelter, all kinds of secret requirements and you can only gain entrance by being referred by CV-HOT. Their operating costs on a per person basis have got to be huge. Their case managers are only handling 5 – 6 people per day, which is double the San Diego Safe Camping admittance of 3 per day.

    This has all the hallmarks of a project that has been forced on someone who didn’t want it, and is therefor operating it in a manner that is designed to fail. “Well, we tried this for 6 months and it didn’t work. We are unfortunately going to have to shut it down.”

  7. “…The village contains 64-square-feet prefabricated units equipped with heating and air conditioning, power outlets, a lamp and two twin beds. …”

    That is eight foot by eight foot space and basically enough for two single wide beds??? For “…$5 million in government funding…” or ~$77K per unit it might be better to buy $48K 820 sq. ft. mobile homes that people would actually “want to live in and thrive” with a bathroom, shower, kitchen, private bed rooms etc. even if it meant fewer units.

Leave a comment
We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.