San Mateo County, Office of Charles Bloszies Announce Contributing Plans to ‘End Homelessness’ through Navigation Center

San Mateo County, San Mateo County Navigation Center, Office of Charles Bloszies, Redwood City, XL Construction, Rosendin Electric, EcoFire Sprinklers, Maniglia Landscape, D-Line Constructors, Maple Street Center, LifeMoves

By Bekka Wiedenmeyer

In April, the County of San Mateo announced their 2022 initiative to “End Homelessness” by the end of the year. Using a three-pronged approach, the County’s ultimate goal is to achieve “functional zero,” whereas every county resident who is experiencing homelessness can either be sheltered in temporary, permanent or emergency housing. Through the joint efforts of the County and San Francisco-based architecture and engineering firm Office of Charles Bloszies, “2022: Our Year of Working Together to End Homelessness” is moving one step closer to reaching its goal through the groundbreaking of the San Mateo County Navigation Center. 

“We’re providing an incredible environment for those experiencing homelessness to get back on their feet and transition into permanent housing,” said Mike Callagy, county executive officer. “It really gives those experiencing homelessness a new freedom, a key to open their own door, a roof over their head and a place to call their own.”

The center will provide 240 temporary housing units and onsite support services to individuals and couples experiencing homelessness. The County’s goal is to open the Navigation Center by the end of 2022.

After acquiring 2.5 acres in Redwood City in September of 2021, approved unanimously by the Redwood City Council and the County Board of Supervisors for rapid development, the County announced their vision for the Navigation Center to provide the capacity for up to 260 individuals to have safe, temporary housing and client services focused on case management and transition to permanent housing. The Office of Charles Bloszies is the lead architect of the project, which is contracted by Milpitas-based construction company XL Construction. Local trade partners include Rosendin Electric, EcoFire Sprinklers, Maniglia Landscape and D-Line Constructors.

The Navigation Center, located at 275 Blomquist Street in a vacant lot in Redwood City, is a key part of the three-step approach to achieving “functional zero” and intends to replace the Maple Street Center, which currently has the capacity to house approximately 110 individuals per night in emergency or transitional housing. According to a press release by the County, the “End Homelessness” initiative represents an intentional shift away from simply providing shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness, and rather focusing on services that address the impetus of an individual’s or family’s barrier to housing and providing a variety of housing options to reach the goal of securing permanent accommodations. 

According to project documents, the new Navigation Center will feature four modular structures comprising 240 units between 100 to 200 square feet each, 168 of which will include in-unit restrooms and 72 without. Each housing structure will be between one to three stories and situated slightly above sea level, given its close proximity to the bayfront. Other site features include 68 parking spaces, including seven spaces for electric vehicles; space for 140 bicycles; a communal space and courtyard; BBQ area; dog run and an all-electric commercial kitchen. There will also be space for on-site client services, which include health services, benefits assistance and vocational training. 

“We’ll have personnel that live on site,” Callagy said. “We’re going to be dealing with providing the resources necessary for people to get the resources they need to transition in life and to become more self-reliant and self-sufficient.”

The County is partnering again with Menlo Park-based nonprofit organization LifeMoves, which operates the Maple Street Center, to run the new Navigation Center. The Navigation Center will operate by referral only once it opens and is not intended to provide walk-up or drop-in services. The Navigation Center will function differently than a traditional temporary shelter, permitting residents to have private sleeping quarters, as well as to stay with their partners or their pets under certain guidelines.

Currently, the total cost of the project is $57 million, which is funded by a series of state and local grants, private donations, trade donations and County funding. The project first broke ground in April 2022 and the County’s goal is to open the Navigation Center by the end of 2022. While the Navigation Center is a key component of the County’s 2022 initiative, the County is focusing on two additional steps to achieve their goals. The County will hold a variety of events and discussions for the general public, which will culminate in a summit held in September to present a concrete plan with action items to achieve “functional zero.” The County has also purchased five former hotels and motels across Redwood City, San Mateo and Half Moon Bay with the intention of converting them into temporary or permanent housing for individuals who are either without shelter or at risk of becoming unsheltered. 

With the efforts of local, state and federal officials, volunteer and nonprofit organizations and local partners, the County continues to move closer toward its goal to “End Homelessness” and support county residents in need with safe, stable housing.

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