The increasing incidence of persons who are unhoused in the Tri-City area must be addressed for the benefit of all—for these individuals, as well for everyone living and working in our communities. Communities that have hundreds or even thousands of unhoused people cannot be considered to be healthy, effective or compassionate. The League of Women Voters of Fremont, Newark and Union City supports policies and services for those who are vulnerable and homeless, and who need support in meeting their basic human needs and thus, stabilizing their lives.
We believe that effective policies and programs should be locally based with county, state, and national support that ensure effective integrated systems. These policies and programs would include clearly identified goals, measurable results, data sharing and resource development. The overarching goal should be to prevent, or at the very least, substantially minimize homelessness in our time.
A “Housing First” model that provides housing with minimal prerequisites, is a promising approach to meeting this goal. This could involve temporary, transitional, family reunification and permanent supportive housing all designed so that unhoused people ultimately end up in stable housing thus making communities healthier and stronger. Additionally, supportive services—advocacy, case management, aftercare, and interventions for mental health and substance abuse— are critical for people to successfully remain housed and off the streets. Moreover, recent studies have shown that there is a net cost benefit to local and county governments when permanent supportive housing is provided, especially to the chronically homeless.
Based on our review of the services to be offered by the proposed Housing Navigation Center (HNC) by the City of Fremont and administered by Bay Area Community Services (BACS), we support building an HNC in Fremont as we believe it offers a promising pathway to housing the unhoused; moreover, it is accompanied by an array of supportive services provided by social service professionals who have had success with a similar facility in a nearby location.
We understand that one Housing Navigation Center will not completely solve the very complex problem of homelessness in our communities; however, it can be a critical first step toward stemming the tide of human suffering due to living on the streets for both the unhoused individuals as well as the community as a whole. For the long term, we believe it is important for the City and County to develop permanent supportive housing necessary to ensure that those navigating off our streets can realize a permanent and supportive home.
The League of Women Voters of Fremont, Newark and Union City would like to thank the City of Fremont staff, the Chief of Police, and the City Council, for holding multiple public forums and providing residents opportunities to voice concerns, make recommendations and ask important questions. This input is critical in a vibrant democracy. At some point soon, the City Council must vote to implement solutions.