Fullerton is one step closer to having a homeless shelter, including some recuperative care beds, after the City Council voted to give the Illumination Foundation $500,000 to help improve a private property the foundation is negotiating to buy.
Councilmembers were originally going to approve a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which is structured as a non-binding agreement, with Illumination Foundation for the shelter, but some on the Council said they weren’t comfortable entering into the agreement until the property is disclosed and residents get a chance to review it. “I’m not comfortable approving an MOU on any property that we haven’t been told about or the public hasn’t been told about,” Councilwoman Jennifer Fitzgerald said. “I just think that an MOU on any specific property has to be vetted with the public fully knowledgeable about where this is going.”
Mayor Jesus Silva called for Tuesday’s special meeting because he wanted to get moving quickly on the shelter and wanted to make sure the Illumination Foundation didn’t lose the property. He said residents “keep telling us, do something about this, get it done. And we’re doing something about it now and I understand the need to vet it out, but with these negotiations going on, I don’t want to lose traction on it.”
Illumination Foundation CEO Paul Leon said as long as Fullerton committed the $500,000, he should be able to secure the property. Leon said he needed the city’s money to ensure the foundation’s donors that the shelter is moving forward in Fullerton and disclosing the location could jeopardize negotiations with the property owner.
He also said the shelter will be a “navigational shelter” for homeless people. Meaning, Illumination Foundation staff will work with each homeless person to help them apply for programs and funding at the federal and state levels, while also helping them get into housing.