Stanislaus County is taking the lead in creating an access center to help homeless people who want to get off the streets.
The initial center would be operated in a modular building at 825 12th St., next to the downtown Modesto jail. County staff members recommend a lease-purchase agreement for the building.
Seven county staff members at the center will reach out to the homeless, determine if they are eligible for housing and refer them to services.
County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services and the Community Services Agency will have staff members at the one-stop center. A housing assessment team is being developed, and the center could serve as a link for a Homelessness Court.
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Social Security and other organizations will have services at the one-stop center as well.
The county, Modesto and a Focus on Prevention action council have worked on a permanent access center, which would have other access points around the county. A permanent center and low-barrier shelter, or shelter with fewer restrictions for the homeless, was proposed near the Salvation Army Berberian Shelter at Ninth and D streets, but the proposal was not cost-effective.
According to a report, the county can acquire the downtown building from Impact Modular Inc. for $86,224. Costs to renovate the facility are not to exceed $150,000.
If the Board of Supervisors gives approval Tuesday, the county is looking to open the access center in the summer. The downtown access center is considered an initial facility until a permanent center can be developed.
Modesto Councilwoman Jenny Kenoyer said the center can start working on a problem that’s probably the biggest complaint of constituents.
“You are not going to see a big decrease right off,” Kenoyer said. “It is getting help for people who have no means of getting to different services they need. We see it as progress.”
Ruben Imperial, community development and empowerment manager for the county, said the community has capacity for 1,000 to 1,400 people in shelters, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing. The demand is high for that housing.
Local organizations in a Community System of Care were reorganized to prevent the county from losing federal funding and to seek grants for additional supportive housing.
County supervisors could approve the access center Tuesday, along with a multiyear financing plan for the Focus on Prevention initiative.
The plan would allocate $250,000 annually for the Stewardship Council that oversees Focus on Prevention. The council has costs for meetings and staff support.
The proposed access center is a key component of the initiative’s goal of reducing homelessness. In the next phase of the 10-year prevention initiative, community leaders will focus on the families of criminal offenders and the families they have affected. Two other phases of the initiative are young people and breaking cycles of crime.
Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321, @KenCarlson16