Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Monday, June 12, 2023 @ 3:15 p.m. / Community, Homelessness

Del Norte Mission Possible Opens New Navigation Center; County Still Pursuing Grant For Multi-Faceted Housing Program


Committee Shares Ambitious Vision for Combating Homelessness Using Those With 'Lived Experience'


Del Norte Mission Possible’s Daphne Cortese-Lambert has realized a long-time goal — opening a navigation center to help point those living in homelessness toward food, medical care, job training and housing.

The new navigation center is at 725 Elk Valley Road in Park City Superette’s parking lot and had a soft grand opening on June 5. It’s open from 10 a.m.-noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday, which, Cortese-Lambert says, gives her enough time to work with three to four people each day.

“We have a population there that many of them cannot make it to any kind of appointments,” she told the Wild Rivers Outpost of people living marshy largely undeveloped area southeast of Crescent City known as “the swamps.” “They can’t get to services. They don’t have the money for the buses. They’re lacking in a lot of areas and it’s a vulnerable population.”

Cortese-Lambert said she has built relationships with many people living in homeless encampments through Del Norte Mission Program’s outreach program. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Del Norte Mission Possible Bus makes stops and helps those who are homeless connect to medical care, behavioral health treatment, food and to enter their information in the Homeless Information Management System.

Last month, Cortese-Lambert said the Del Norte Mission Possible Bus saw 180 people, which is a record, but makes meeting everyone’s needs difficult. The new Navigation Center helps solve that problem, she said.

“It is kind of the ground-level basic because if you cannot meet with an individual one on one, give them the time they need and a place where they feel safe to be able to answer those questions, you’re not going to get anywhere,” she said. “The beginning of that is the Homeless Management Information System. That lets me know what programs are offered through the county that are available to them and also programs offered through the (Nor Cal) Continuum of Care through Shasta County.”

Peer support is also an integral part of Del Norte Mission Possible’s navigation center as it is with most of its programs. Cortese-Lambert said Del Norte Mission Possible will train people with lived experience to offer that support.

“We’ve already had great success. We had someone who had community service through our garbage program and he had helped us out,” she said, referring to Del Norte Mission Possible clients who help cleanup homeless encampments. “After his hours were done he kept helping me out for probably eight months and he’s now an employee for Mission Possible and does the garbage program. It frees me up to go to some meetings and do things I need to do.”

Del Norte Mission Possible’s new navigation center is one of two Cortese-Lambert envisions as part of Del Norte County’s larger mission to help people find a path out of homelessness.

Using state Encampment Resolution Funding dollars, the navigation centers, or “intake sites” would bring people who want out of homeless encampments to an emergency shelter. Lambert still envisions that shelter for the now-shuttered Our Daily Ministries building at 1135 Harrold Street in Crescent City.

From there, if folks are meeting with a case manager and are achieving their goals they would graduate to a pallet house program. At a meeting of the Del Norte County Homelessness Ad-hoc Committee in February, Cortese-Lambert said she envisioned having up to 30 pallet homes in a gated community with showers, port-a-potties, a garden, storage and coin-operated laundry.

Del Norte County is still pursuing ERF dollars, said District 1 Supervisor Darrin Short, who, along with District 5 Supervisor Dean Wilson, sits on the homelessness ad-hoc committee. However, the county would have been notified late last month or earlier this month if they received a grant and they weren’t, Short said.

“We’re kind of thinking we did not get it,” Short told the Outpost. “But there are three funding cycles in that grant and it goes until the money runs out.”

At that February ad-hoc homelessness committee meeting, Alison Ramsay, of True North Organizing Network, said there were $240 million in ERF money available to move people from homeless encampments to permanent housing as quickly as possible.

On Monday, Short said it’s likely Del Norte County will try for those ERF dollars again.

“Without grant funding we’re kind of at a standstill,” he said. “We want to pursue some other things such as getting some land to put some pallet houses on. It’s kind of stalled right now, but not completely.”

Meanwhile, the closure of Our Daily Bread Ministries has left a “big hole” as far as food access for homeless people living on the northern side of Crescent City, Lambert said. She said she makes sure the outreach program offers more food, including sandwiches and MREs to make sure no one goes hungry. She said she believes that the number of people seeking help from Del Norte Mission Possible’s outreach program has increased because Our Daily Bread Ministries closed.

The Our Daily Bread building was purchased by another party, Lambert said. Del Norte Mission Possible is working on a long-term lease agreement with that person to rent the building, she said.

“It is my great desire that we can get everything together by this winter,” she said. “Now there’s no promises. It really depends on how long it takes for the lease agreement and we’re looking for sustained funding — that’s going to be a little bit of a challenge — but we believe we can make this work.”


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