First look at navigation center renderings shows architect planning ‘inviting, welcoming, and secure campus’

Community leaders, elected officials, and the public have been getting a preview of the project courtesy of its architect, city and county officials, and others involved in seeing it to fruition.
Members of the Desert Highland Gateway Estates Community Action Association take notes on Oct. 11 as they listen to a presentation about a planned homeless services center adjacent to the neighborhood.

Work to build out a campus offering homeless services in the city has reached another milestone in its accelerated timeline.

Driving the news: During the past two weeks, community leaders, elected officials, and the public have been getting a preview of the project courtesy of its architect, the city’s economic development director, and others involved in seeing it to fruition, including representatives from Martha’s Village & Kitchen, which will manage the facility.

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  • What they’ve seen are the first renderings of what a “homeless navigation center” will look like when it opens off McCarthy Road in northern Palm Springs next year.

Zoom in: The renderings show development at the 3.6-acre site will initially focus on two main buildings and 80 residential units – stacked pods with lockable doors that provide shelter and security for more than 100 unhoused residents.

  • Residents of the temporary housing will use services offered in the nearby buildings, including education and employment training programs, case management, and family connection services. 

  • The project is designed as an “inviting, welcoming, and secure campus,” the Palm Springs City Council heard Monday evening.

What they’re saying: “The whole concept of this is to get people in and out to permanent housing. We know housing first works. With something like this, the likelihood of people falling out of service programs offered … is far less.” – Greg Rodriguez, deputy director, Riverside County Housing and Workforce Solutions

A preliminary schematic drawing of what a homeless services center planned in northern Palm Springs might look like.

At issue: During a presentation to the Desert Highland Gateway Estates Community Action Association on Oct. 11, a city official assured residents neighborhood safety was a priority when designing the facilities. Those points were reiterated Monday evening as architects discussed how they’ve reworked certain aspects of the project following feedback from a community workgroup formed to ensure the concerns of neighbors were addressed. “This is not a drop-in, drop-out facility,” Rodriguez explained. 

  • For example, entry and exit to the facility will be through a single point, and residents will need to be buzzed in and use keys similar to those used at hotels.

  • In addition, buildings will be positioned to offer security officers a direct line of sight to residents at all times, and security officers will patrol the exterior.

Zoom in: Speaking after the meeting of the community action association, Linda Barrack, the former CEO of Martha’s Village & Kitchen who now serves as a consultant, said unhoused community members would be chosen to live at the facility through a prescreening process at the city’s existing homeless access center near the airport.

  • If the city successfully builds a community at the navigation center, Barrack said keeping residents enrolled in programs should be less challenging. “We want to make it comfortable enough that they don’t want to lose the privilege of being there,” she said.

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