CSET held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Visalia Navigation Center, a 100-bed facility with support services for homeless individuals
Visalia – A 100-bed facility with wraparound support services for homeless people broke ground in Visalia, addressing the dire need for low-barrier housing in Tulare County. This begins the end of years of hand wringing over what to do about the local unhoused population.
Tulare County Board Supervisor Eddie Valero shared his thoughts on the significance of the project, saying, “Every resource that we can direct people to and move them towards stability, is a beautiful thing. We have an ongoing obligation and commitment in addressing this crisis, and that work is represented here this morning. Thank you TC Hope and CSET for taking the charge to lead this endeavor – you truly are where community happens. This project is an example of your why, your purpose, and I am excited to be a part of this.”
The Visalia Navigation Center, located on Dinuba Boulevard across from the Riverway Sports Park, will be funded primarily by federal and state grant dollars, as well as local philanthropic support, with an estimated construction cost of $11.6 million and an estimated annual operating cost of $1.5 million.
According to a 2022 Kings/Tulare Homeless Alliance Point in Time survey, there are an estimated 922 individuals experiencing homelessness in Tulare County, and an estimated 469 unhoused individuals in Visalia alone. The community’s existing shelters are at capacity and many individuals and families are being turned away and unable to access safe, secure, temporary housing.
Mary Alice Escarsega-Fechner, executive director of CSET, emphasized the importance of the community’s involvement in the project, stating, “We have over 10 local partners who will be rolling up their sleeves with us to bring services in. This is going to be a place of hope, a place of changing lives, not only for the individuals that are coming here for services, but for the people who have the privilege to work here. We are committed to being a great partner, and the neighborhoods will be a part of this as well.”
The Visalia Navigation Center will be a low-barrier, service-enriched living facility focused on guiding residents into permanent housing. Based on the national Housing First approach, the “low-barrier” aspect removes common barriers to entry, including a resident’s need to bring partners and/or pets, store personal possessions, or adhere to religious beliefs. The “navigation” aspect of the center refers to the presence of case managers to connect residents to supportive services.
Dr. Ryan Gates, Chief Population Health Officer at Kaweah Health, expressed his excitement about partnering with the Visalia Navigation Center, saying, “We are very excited to partner with the Visalia Navigation Center to help meet this community need – not just to have a safe place to be discharged to, but a place with caring staff who can help people on their journey out of homelessness.”
Construction on the Visalia Navigation Center is expected to be completed in Spring 2024. Upon completion, a neighborhood council will be established to provide ongoing feedback and dialogue between the center and the surrounding community. For more information on the Visalia Navigation Center, the neighborhood council, or to donate to the project, please visit tchope.org.