Ground-breaking moment for new center at Stockton homeless shelter

Construction on the $5 million Navigation Center is scheduled to begin in July

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless signified the end of one part of the task and the beginning of the next.

The event celebrated the beginning of construction of a new $5 million Navigation Center on the grounds beneath the overpasses of Interstate 5 and Highway 4.  With the planning stages complete, construction is scheduled to start before month’s end and tentatively finish in January.

The 11,000 square-foot, three-story Navigation Center will include a reception area, offices, drop-in center, isolation area, laundry facilities, and dormitories for men, couples, and families. Support services will be offered. The center will be open and staffed 24 hours a day. Residents live onsite and are not required to line up to get bed space or leave during the day. They can also bring in their partners, dogs, and possessions.

The focus is on giving beds to the most vulnerable members of the homeless community.

Ted Leland, CEO of Stockton Shelter for the Homeless, accepts a certificate from State Senator Susan Eggman (ROBYN JONES/CONTRIBUTOR)

“The board realized that it is not enough to just get people into a shelter, we needed to provide wrap-around services, too, to make sure they do not end up back on our streets,” said Darlene Canepa, the Shelter’s board president. “Our collaboration with the City, County, and (the Navigation Center) will enable us to provide much-needed shelter, services, and support altogether so these residents can truly begin their transition back into ‘homefulness.’ ”

Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln, San Joaquin County Supervisors Robert Rickman and Tom Patti, and State Senator Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) attended the event.

Sen. Eggman is a longtime proponent

During her tenure in the State Assembly, Eggman authored AB 2629, which eliminated lease renewal restrictions in the air space where the Stockton Shelter and St. Mary’s Dining Hall reside. Previously, the law restricted the air space in the area owned by Caltrans. This made it impossible for the nonprofits to build permanent structures.

Governor Jerry Brown signed Eggman’s bill into law in 2018.

“It’s incredibly rewarding that I was able to use my knowledge of this community and the authority granted to me,” Eggman said. “To be able to do good for people is a dream come true.”

Stockton City Council member Dan Wright, Vice Mayor Christina Fugazi, Mayor Kevin Lincoln, State Senator Susan Eggman, Councilmember Sol Jobrack and City Manager Harry Black at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new center at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless. (ROBYN JONES/CONTRIBUTOR)

Ted Leland, formerly vice president and athletic director at University of the Pacific, became the Stockton Shelter’s acting chief executive officer this week. He joked he was a latecomer to the celebration. But he said he could offer an outsider’s perspective about what has been accomplished.

“I’ve been amazed as I’ve gone through the background and the grants and the work that everybody has put into this and how long this has been a dream,” Leland said. “There’s lots of times (those of) us in San Joaquin County and Stockton sort of denigrate ourselves. This is an example of what we can do, what you can do when we all work together.”

Stockton Shelter partnered with Pacific’s Eberhart School of Business to write the Navigation Center’s business plan. Shelter administrators also hired homelessness and housing policy professionals to oversee the new center’s policies, procedures, and social services partnerships.

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