HAYWARD (KRON) — There are more than 400 people experiencing homelessness in Hayward, with a majority of them living unsheltered, and the city is now looking to change that.

On the corner of Depot and Whitesell Road in the city’s industrial zone, Hayward is building a navigation center — a $3 million project approved back in January.

The vacant city land will soon provide shelter, bathrooms, showers, laundry facilities and warm meals to 45 people for up to six months — with the end goal of moving them out and into permanent housing.

“It’s important to me to be a peer advocate, helping my friends and family that are out there,” said Hayward resident Kimberlee Burks.

On Wednesday, the city held a community meeting to answer any questions people may have about the project.

Burks was homeless for years and now dedicates her life to helping those still out on the streets. She says this project is long overdue in Hayward.

“To be out of the elements, to be safe, it’s a struggle and a challenge out there,” Burks said.

Outreach workers will target people who are homeless and living in encampments around the city.

Right now, Hayward has just two permanent shelters, which only help families, women and children.

“There is a lot of momentum around navigation centers and around coupling immediate shelter with services to move people into permanent housing,” said Jessica Lobedan with the City of Hayward. “And I think that that model of both addressing the immediate problem and identifying longer term solutions is really exciting.”

The navigation center is expected to open this winter.

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