My 60 days at the Navigation Center

The new Navigation Center in the Dogpatch. Photo: Kenzie Alizabeth.

I have been at the Navigation Center four times within the last year. Since being a client of the Navigation Center, I have experienced the good and bad from staff. Here is the truth from someone who has been in here for almost 60 days.

When you come in, you are greeted with a smile from the front desk. As you walk in, you are greeted nicely. That’s on Day One. After that day, just know you will not receive that on the second day. You are confronted with attitudes from the staff members. You are also being searched like criminals when you come in and also the security guard goes overboard when he searches you. They’ve got one security guard who has a wand that searches you. He is very disrespectful, and on top of that, he tells you to do disrespectful things such as lifting up clothing, making us feel demoralized and inhuman. Don’t disrespect him or else he will threaten to kick you out of the Navigation Center. While you are in your dorm just chilling, staff come in every five to ten minutes. What can happen in that time frame?

There are a lot of flaws here. The staff show favoritism towards clients. How are we supposed to be independent if staff are enabling the clients who actually are the ones that need more help than some of the other clients?

How can you navigate us in the right direction if you guys don’t even know about the different opportunities that are available to the clients? And what is sad is that the staff are drug dealers and users, formerly incarcerated, and formerly homeless. You would think they have some compassion in understanding because of their background, but I feel like they don’t. It’s about the almighty dollar that comes into this pocket and not the well-being of the client.

Now let me say there are some good points about the Navigation Center. Your case manager will help you to the best of their ability and they work with you if you are willing to do the footwork. If not, then pretty much you’re wasting their time and yours. Also, the services that they offer are awesome. You can obtain your ID, and get tested for TB and STDs. If you have a dog, you can get him trained here as well. They also offer case management and therapy if you want it. The other thing they have are different events that they celebrate. They also offer storage for your belongings that you bring in, and when you exit the Navigation Center they give your stuff back to you.

So the Navigation is not bad or good in my eyes. I just wish that people who have been in our shoes would remember where they came from and treat us like human being instead of like inmates at the county jail.
The Navigation Center is like a revolving door because after your 30 days, they kick you out back into your encampments. Then, when you’re in your encampment they tell you that you need to leave and come and pick you back up to go to the Navigation Center. This is the first time that I’ve been able to stay longer than 30 days. It’s an extension. The only way someone can get to the Civic Center Navigation Center, which is a Navigation Center where you can stay for longer periods of time, is if you have been 13 years homeless with verifiable documents.

I wish that the Navigation Center would go back to the way they were before—when people were able to access housing—and stop making it a revolving door.

So there it is: The uncut and upfront truth about the Navigation Center.