To the Editor,
The City has finally opened its Navigation Center in the Little Saigon area of the International District (ID) — on its own terms and without having sought sincere input and engagement with the community [in regards to] where it will be situated. This experiment in unsheltered services will affect all of us, but especially those who live, work in, and visit Little Saigon.
We know that the residents will be allowed to use drugs and alcohol while there. We do not know what kind of oversight there will be or what rules and limits there will be on drug and alcohol use. Lack of a plan could quickly doom the Navigation Center and its residents. And who wants a homeless shelter in their community/neighborhood, where people are feeding their addiction without treatment or supervision? Even with a management/supervision plan, we must
challenge the wisdom of allowing substance use here. This is meant to be transitional housing, not a safe injection/use facility.
The City must make sure that people with opioid addictions are definitively not allowed to stay here. The Navigation Center is not meant to be a treatment facility for opioid or other substances. Opiate addicts without treatment could pose a significant problem to business, tourism, and residents in the ID.
We must demand that the City provide public quarterly progress reports on the Navigation Center. It is funded with public money, so accountability is justified as is transparency.
One of the reasons for the Navigation Center was to connect people with housing. Councilmember Sally Bagshaw told the community that she did not know if housing would be available. We have to question the wisdom of creating yet another shelter that will turn into a revolving door for homeless people if once the 60-day limit is reached, they are not placed into housing. Is this good for the residents? Is this good for our community? Is the ID supposed to de facto absorb people who are evicted after 60 days and where would that be?
The standards and operations of each Navigation Center — more are planned for other parts of the city — must be identical. As an immigrant community that is non-white, we should be wary of different standards in different parts of the city.
The City should convene an oversight committee or board that includes people from the ID and Little Saigon. We have an interest in the management and effects of the Navigation Center on our businesses, cultural tourism and monument sites, our homes and people — the immigrants and elders who live here.
The City must ensure that the Navigation Center, with its current flaws, does not become a disaster for the community that it is situated in or for the residents whom it is intended to serve. We must demand that!
— Patty Fong