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.
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.