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New non-congregate housing navigation center coming to City of Watsonville

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION-TV) - On Tuesday the Monterey County Board of Supervisors approved a plan that would house people living in the encampment along the Pajaro River in Watsonville.

Homeless people along the Pajaro River may soon have a safe place to stay. This comes after the County of Monterey approved 34 interim housing units in Watsonville.

Dignity Moves, a non-profit that supports the homeless population will take over the project along with the Coalition of Homeless Services Provider.

"When you give people a chance to help themselves, have a great place to take a good night's sleep, and then work with case managers," said Elizabeth Funk founder and CEO of Dignity Moves. "It's so rewarding to see those lives get back on track."

The 34 units will sit by the Westview Presbyterian Church in Watsonville. There will be security, cameras, 24-hour staff, a pet area, congregate dining, housing navigation, and supportive services. The total cost is over $5 million.

However, because the units will sit in a flood zone, the county does need a plan to protect the units which will cost around $1 million.

"We consider raising each one of the units individually, but then that means that we have to develop ramps and staircases," said Roxanne Wilson, County of Monterey Homeless Service Director. "And it did actually supersede the million-dollar initial costs, So what we're doing is lifting the entire project on steel frames,"

Monterey County did try leasing property in Monterey County near the encampment but had no luck.
I asked how the city of Watsonville feels about housing the homeless from Monterey County.

While some Watsonville councilmembers aren't too happy, Watsonville City Councilman Eduardo Montesino says it's all about empathy.

"A lot of people say why are we doing this and why should we open our arms?" said Montesino. "We got to look at even though they're across the river, there are a lot of family members and I always call it our sister city."

Dignity Moves says they hope they can start moving people in by the end of this year. This housing service will be operating for two years.

The first year of services is fully funded Santa Cruz and Monterey are working to fill gaps for the second year.

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Dania Romero

Dania Romero is an reporter at KION News Channel 46.


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