The year 2019 has brought us many new and exciting projects; one of those being the opening of our city’s now acclaimed Modesto Outdoor Emergency Shelter (MOES). Since April, MOES has served over 700 individuals, and has consistently maintained a population of more than 400 people. Included in the larger figure, are 250 people who have exited MOES, 33 of whom secured permanent housing in some form. Additionally, since its opening, over 3,100 individual services have been provided to MOES campers.
MOES was always intended to be a temporary solution, and as we reach the end of this year, it is time to close down this temporary project. As a means to transition MOES residents to the next stages of the housing continuum, we have a variety of alternatives lined up for the new year! Each story is unique to the individual experiencing homelessness and that is why we are currently case managing every resident at MOES to determine if they are willing to move indoors.
The Stanislaus County new Access Center Emergency Shelter, located on the Salvation Army’s Berberian Center campus, is set to open next week and will offer 182 beds in preparation for the MOES closing, plus an additional 50 beds at the Berberian Shelter’s existing operation. Designed as a low-barrier shelter, individuals and their partners, pets (spayed/neutered with up-to-date vaccinations), and possessions are welcome.
Unfortunately, homelessness has and continues to be a concern in the City and we are making strategic efforts to aid the most vulnerable in our community. Through a Coordinated Entry Process at the new Access Center Emergency Shelter, the vulnerability of our homeless individuals will be assessed and priority given to those with the highest need. The access center, that is planned to open in January, will house case managers and outreach teams ready to help address any obstacles that may be impeding residents from accepting other housing services.
Some may be concerned with the number of beds provided at the emergency shelters but I assure you these are not the only beds available. As individuals transition into new housing stages, we are also increasing the number of beds through the housing continuum, ultimately preluding to our affordable housing goal. Between the City and Stanislaus County, we currently have a total of 2,729 beds available throughout the housing continuum, ranging from emergency shelters to affordable ownership. Not to mentions the additional 894 beds soon to be added. These beds are provided through partnered organizations within the city and county, such as Center for Human Services, Children’s Crisis Center, Haven’s Women Center, Family Promise, and more.
Despite our best efforts, we do anticipate a temporary surge back into the community of individuals who decline emergency shelter or other housing services offered, and are implementing a strict accountability element to our efforts. The Modesto Police Department recently developed a robust plan to address illegal camping and vagrancy. This plan includes the deployment of the Crime Reduction Team (CRT), the Homeless Engagement and Response Team (HEART), the Crime Prevention Unit, and other tactical groups to patrol areas experiencing high vagrancy related issues. As we contact individuals experiencing homelessness, they will be directed to the Salvation Army, or other facilities with available beds where we hope they will embrace the opportunity to begin the road to a full life.
When creating solutions to urgent issues we constantly keep in mind the safety and well-being of our city as a whole. With the help of our partners and staff, we aspire to reduce homelessness in our community one step at a time, and we know there is more work to be done.
For now, as we share patience through this evolving program, please take advantage of several resources:
- If you feel unsafe because of an act of vagrancy, call the police department’s non-emergency line at (209) 552-2470.
- To report vagrancy-related clean-ups, use the GoModesto app or GoModesto on the city’s website.
- As always, for emergencies, call 9-1-1