VALLEJO – As Vallejo continues to grapple with multiple housing issues, including repeated delays with opening a homeless navigation center, city leaders have looked within and tapped assistant to the city manager Natalie Peterson to serve as the city’s new houselessness manager.
Peterson will be tasked with developing and managing a comprehensive program to coordinate Vallejo’s response to serving the city’s unsheltered population.
“I plan to take advantage of grant opportunities to bring in the funding and resources to make the changes that the community and Council want to see,” Peterson told the Vallejo Sun this week.
The Vallejo City Council approved creation of the senior level-position during mid-year budget discussions in January. The move included expanding the role and responsibility of an assistant to the city manager analyst position. Peterson, who began with the city as an analyst within the housing division in August 2020, was made interim assistant to the city manager in April before getting the permanent position this month.
The new position comes as Vallejo’s proposed 125-bed homelessness navigation center has been beset with delays and an increasing budget. Peterson provided the Sun with a brief update on the center, saying that the council “has authorized staff to assess and negotiate on potential locations for the Navigation Center.”
City officials revealed last December that the proposed location for the navigation center at 5 Midway St. didn’t allow human habitation because of prior industrial uses of the property. The city has no target date for when the center will open and city officials said in November they are short $2.3 million necessary to complete the project.
Peterson said for the immediate future she is working on ensuring the successful launch of permanent supportive housing projects on Sacramento Street and Broadway.
The Sacramento Street project, called Blue Oak Landing, will be a 75-unit permanent supportive housing project next January. When applications opened in July, there was massive demand, as the city received 1,049 applicants for 51 affordable housing units in 3 hours. The remaining 23 units would be filled from the No Place Like Home program, which serves homeless people with severe mental illness countywide. A final unit is reserved for an on-site manager.
Eden Housing is developing the project using modular housing from Mare Island-based Factory_OS. The project experienced some difficulties after the city revealed in July that due to unspecified errors the city must pay back $2.6 million in federal grant funds associated with the project.
The city is also facing an uphill climb with the Broadway Project, a 48-unit supportive housing project to be built on a parcel of land near the border with American Canyon, which. has expressed concern with the proposed plan, arguing the city of Vallejo didn’t give proper notice of the new housing project. If built, the project would include 47 studio apartments, each about 305 square feet. A 48th unit would be occupied by an onsite manager.
Peterson said that the city is also “working collaboratively with Solano County cities and the county to implement the Joint Powers Authority regional homeless plan to address all levels of housing.”
Joint powers authority are composed of two or more municipalities that come together to focus on a joint topic.
Peterson called homelessness “a nationwide epidemic right now,” and she said “there is no one solution to address it.”
“We are committed to working closely with the community, nonprofits, and all that want to participate to provide assistance to address the situation, even if we can’t solve it overnight,” she added.
City Manager Mike Malone also recently named Jason Ackley as the other assistant to the city manager - filling the two analyst positions that went vacant under former City Manager Greg Nyhoff when he fired Will Morat and Joanna Altman in April 2020.
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THE VALLEJO SUN NEWSLETTER
Investigative reporting, regular updates, events and more
- Jason Ackley
- Will Morat
- Joanna Altman
- Greg Nyhoff
- Natalie Peterson
- Vallejo City Council
- navigation center
- Sacramento Street Project
- Blue Oak Landing
- Eden Housing
- Broadway Street Project
- American Canyon
- Mike Malone
John Glidden worked as a journalist covering the city of Vallejo for more than 10 years. He left journalism in 2023 and currently works in the office of Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown.
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