Homeless navigation center to open this week in Hayward

Hayward's first homeless navigation center is set to open Tuesday. The center will provide transitional housing and services to up to 45 homeless people living in and around the city. 

The facility is located in Hayward's industrial zone on the corner of Whitesell Street and Depot Road. The center is modeled after one in Berkeley that has been praised as being successful. The same group running that center, Bay Area Community Services, will run the new 45-bed shelter in Hayward. 

City leaders offered a preview of the center on Monday. They said they hope it helps people get back on their feet, the same way other community services do. 

"(This is) not only the model of really empowerment, but also the opportunity for adults and couples without children to have those same opportunites-we haven't had before in the city and now we do," said Sara Lamnin a Hayward city councilmember. 

Dozens of community members showed up for the ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the work that has gone into putting the center up. It's been 10 years in the making. 

As recent as three to four weeks ago, the area was nothing but gravel. 

Residents at the new center will be given one meal a day. There's also on-site restrooms, showers, laundry and kitchen facilities. Social services will be there for those who need it as well as substance-abuse counseling. But most of all the facility and its services provide a path to permanent housing. 

At last count, there were about 500 homeless people living in Hayward. That's about a hundred more than two years ago. 

We spoke with one man who knows what hard times can be like first hand. 

He said the more people use this center, and find permanent homes, the more people will be motivated to get help. 

"I found out while being on the street by some of the things I did inspired others to improve themselves. And that's the thing. Once they see part of the populous actually doing better, others start to follow," said Armand Harris a resident. 

Monday marked the opening of operations, but the homeless residents will officially be welcomed on Tuesday. 

Officials said no one will be allowed in without a recommendation. Hayward police and social workers will work to identify those who need help and all residents will have to go through an intake process.