by Provided by Sprung Structures

The city of Chula Vista loaned a homeless shelter worth $800,000 from a prominent nonprofit which remained in a public works facility since it was received for nearly a year and a half. 

During the Sept. 28 City Council meeting, Director of Development services Tiffany Allen and Senior Management Analyst Angelica Davis from the Housing Division announced the city would not be utilizing the Sprung Bridge Shelter during the Year-End Accomplishments Report: Federal Housing and Urban Development Block Grant Programs presentation. According to Allen, the design did not necessarily fit the needs of the community. 

Different housing options were considered by city staff, including the option of Tiny Homes, not relying on Sprung Bridge Shelter, that was deemed to be the most suitable for the needs of the community. Details and further discussion on this will circulate at the next city council meeting on Oct. 26 for the council’s consideration. 

The shelter will be located in the southwest area of Chula Vista. According to Allen, engineers concluded a design for onsite and offsite operations. 

Then-San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas made the announcement last May of their partnership with the Lucky Duck Foundation who purchased and loaned the Sprung Bridge Shelter. The nonprofit had previously loaned the tent to the city of San Diego to house a now-shuttered Midway District shelter for veterans.

With the aid of political and business leaders to push for an immediate solution, the City of San Diego worked for the creation of three Sprung structures to serve as bridge housing. Three engineered tension membrane structures complete with fiber glass blanket insulation were completed within the matter of weeks according to the shelter’s webpage

The Sprung Bridge shelter has the capacity of up to 250 people. According to Allen, "we are not necessarily prepared to start with the capacity of 250, and congregate housing is not recommended during COVID. So the city decided to look at a more individual option." Said Allen. According to Davis, Tiny Homes will provide more dignity and privacy to people.The design is complete and everything has been approved. These tiny homes will be delivered to the city and once they are on the ground, they take about 45 minutes to assemble. The city is currently waiting on approval from the state. 

“I think the community and the council would be really pleased with the option that we’re going with. When we were considering the big huge tent, I really wasn't happy because it really didn't provide the level of dignity that we want for people,” Mayor Salas said. “Our community is very different. The first thing that we want to do when we establish our first sheltered space for people is that they have the utmost dignity and that we have a quality project that will help people lift out of their situation.” 

On an annual basis, the City of Chula Vista receives funding from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program, and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program, as well as funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to contribute toward a number of diverse programs and services aimed at enhancing the quality of life for Chula Vista’s low to moderate income residents.

Under CDBG, the city constructed the Sprung Bridge Shelter and under ESG, completed the shelter’s ramp and operations. CDBG disperses funds to public services through tax improvement projects while ESG funds are specifically designated for homeless services, which add to approximately $200,000. 

According to Allen, the city’s overall performance met and exceeded the established goals, particularly under Public Services and Capital Improvement Projects. This was due to the additional funding received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, an economic stimulus bill passed in response to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CARES funding gave Chula Vista the ability to fund more projects and programs to respond to community needs resulting from COVID-19. The CARES Act additionally included a waiver of the typical cap placed on public services expenditures. Public Services expenditures are capped at approximately $300,000; however, with the waiver of the cap the city was able to spend more than $1 million in this category.

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