Strong opposition to Fremont navigation center for homeless

There was intense opposition Tuesday night surrounding a navigation center to help homeless people in Fremont. City leaders have narrowed down the location to two possible sites either in the Decoto neighborhood or behind city hall.
It was not on the agenda, but hundreds of residents came here anyway. 250 people signed up to speak during public comment period. 
It was a boisterous crowd outside Fremont City Hall. Many of them held signs “Not Decoto” referring to a proposal to build a navigation center for the homeless at city-owned land on Decoto Road.
Hui Ng started an online petition with 7,000 signatures.
“We want to do the right thing to help and to not get neighborhoods against neighborhoods,” said Hui Ng of Fremont.
Ng and hundreds of residents packed council chambers and overflow rooms. They want the center to be located at a parking lot behind city hall away from homes and away from schools.
“Have you ever talked to a homeless person? Have you ever heard their journey? Have you ever heard their story?,” said City of Fremont Human Services Director Suzanne Shenfil.
“We didn't think it be that difficult but it has been a very difficult process,” said Fremont Vice Mayor Raj Salwan.
City officials admit the process has not gone well. The two sites were chosen based on criteria near public transportation and food services.
The goal is to house up to 45 people for half a year and put them in permanent housing. Fremont’s homeless population has jumped 27 percent in two years. Vice Mayor Raj Salwan said many concerns are driven by fear.
“Both groups are now unhappy,” said Salwan. “Originally it was the Decoto neighbors but now I’m getting petitions from city hall neighbors. Ultimately we are going to make a decision someone is going to be unhappy about.”
Most people at Tuesday’s meeting opposed the Decoto site. Niraj Jetly doesn't think city hall is good either.
“City Hall is the only site where residents are walking not driving,” said Jetly. “My firsthand experience my wife was walking in the morning she got heckled not once, twice but three times by a homeless person right outside city hall.”
At the city hall parking lot, a homeless couple there who didn't want to be identified said they are receptive to a center and receptive to help.
City leaders hope to choose a location in September but not before hosting two community outreach meetings in August. Despite the opposition, city leaders are committed to following through and said they need to appropriate the funds by January, or they'll lose it.