Palm Springs, CA
Palm Springs City Council at its last council meeting addressed the timeline of the Homeless Navigation Center being planned in North Palm Springs.
Speaking to City Council, Jay Virata, Palm Springs director of community and economic development informed them of delays to the project citing supply chain issues.
While some council members expressed dismay about the delay of the project, in particular Lisa Middleton who said, “Jay, that’s not good enough,” some members of the community are expressing deep concerns that the navigation center does not have current plans to prioritize beds to the homeless population of Palm Springs.
To be clear, the goal of City Council and many members of the community on the surface appear to be the same. Taking a compassionate approach to assist those experiencing homelessness into a better life, off the streets of Palm Springs.
The concern however is that by building out a Navigation Center in Palm Springs to service the entire County of Riverside may bring additional out of town homeless individuals into town.
It’s unknown what the success rate will be for those staying at the Navigation Center.
Local community advocate, Matt Robinson, who runs a popular Facebook group, I Love Downtown Palm Springs with over 8,200 members questioned how the navigation center will prioritize the Palm Springs community. He pointed out that, “one member of council ran on the fact the city of Palm Springs was building an 80 bed facility for it’s homeless.” The “facts are it’s intended service area is Palm Springs, Cathedral City, and Desert Hot Springs, (western Coachella Valley) but being a County facility can serve cities from Riverside to Blythe. That’s not 80 beds to serve the homeless of Palm Springs!”
He went onto to say, “I suggested Palm Springs open pre-qualifing now to persons homeless in the City of Palm Springs 90 of the last 120 days. I do not want this to attract people to Palm Springs for the services we offer but provide services to those already on our streets.” He challenged the city to “show us the details, who will qualify, when will it open, residency rules etc… its been on the city’s talking points long enough. These answers should be known and public.”
Currently, there is no mandate for cities to build facilities assisting the homeless and mentally ill in California. This leaves the majority of homeless services to be offered in larger “compassionate” cities like Los Angleles, San Diego, San Francisco and Long Beach. Notably, these are the same cities with the perceived larger homeless populations per resident.
It’s been a common theme for residents who live in the above mentioned cities to question whether they have much higher homeless populations because of their name ID or the services they offer.
As the navigation center moves forward, albeit slowly, Palm Springs City Councilmembers will continue to be confronted by this challenging issue, threading together a response to helping homeless individuals while working in parallel with the Palm Springs Police Department and their Operation Relentless Sun to continue to improve the quality of life for residents, visitors, and businesses.