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Feds give shelter a boost

The Department of Veterans Affairs granted $250,000 toward the Modesto Salvation Army to help homeless military veterans get back on their feet.
The Department of Veterans Affairs granted $250,000 toward the Modesto Salvation Army to help homeless military veterans get back on their feet. Modesto Bee

A $250,000 grant will help Modesto's Salvation Army renovate its homeless shelter on Ninth and D streets and provide a program for homeless veterans and other people living on the street to make long-lasting changes in their lives.

The federal Department of Veterans Affairs announced the grant this week, in part to add 20 beds to the shelter for homeless veterans.

The VA money plus a $980,000 grant from the national Emergency and Food and Shelter Program will fund the renovations, said Major Darvin Carpenter of The Salvation Army.

The updates to the shelter will allow The Salvation Army to improve its transitional living program to help homeless veterans and others find work, health care, financial aid for schooling and homes.

"It's an excellent program to change lives," Carpenter said. "This program can work miracles."

The transitional living program will have a capacity of 36 people, veterans and nonveterans. Carpenter said the participants can stay in the program for up to two years.

The renovations will improve a semiprivate living space, where participants can stay for an extended period of time while they are connected to resources.

"We'll assign them to a social worker to prepare a way for them to change their lives," Carpenter said. "We'll bring these services to your side."

Part of the program will be available when the shelter opens for the season Oct. 16, but it will be fully functional by Nov. 1. Carpenter expects to see the program fill to capacity, with a waiting list, by the end of December.

"We've been working on this for years and now it's finally happening," Carpenter said. "They're going to see that it works."

Carpenter said the shelter still will be available to anyone who needs to get out of the cold for the night. He said the shelter's staff wants to make a strong effort to help people get off the streets for good.

The VA grant is part of an effort to reduce homelessness among veterans, according to a news release.

"This grant provides a helping hand to veterans who have served our nation in uniform," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake. "Our partnerships with community-based organizations provide safe, temporary housing while these veterans return to productive lives."

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.

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