New navigation center unveiled in Merced County

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FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — On Tuesday, in Merced County, a new navigation center was unveiled. The center will focus on helping house those who are homeless and provide them services.

The goal of this project is to give people who are homeless a safe temporary place to stay in modified shipping containers.

If you drive around the Valley you might see people who are homeless taking up residence along the freeway embankments, side streets, rivers, and parks. Homelessness has been an ongoing-growing issue.

“What we’d like to do is get these people out of those public spaces and get them on a track to getting their lives back together,” said Lloyd Pareira with the Merced County Board of Supervisors for District 4.

That place will soon be in Merced County, near B and 15th Streets, at a new low barrier temporary shelter made up of these modified shipping containers.

“Its purpose is to have a place where homeless people can go, in a congregate setting, fairly low barrier, and that way the county caseworkers and other nonprofits that are working with the homeless to try and help them get their lives back on track have a place to build a relationship with them,” Pareira said. 

This project started about three years ago, several services are nearby from behavioral health to the public health department.

The funds are coming from the state with the help of Assemblymember Adam Gray, local and other grants.”It’s $6.48 million which includes all the site work, purchasing the facility, and then having it installed and put together so it’ll be turn-key at the end of that time and then it will take about $1.7 million a year to operate it,” he said.

This facility is modeled after a low-barrier shelter in southern California’s Buena Park. It’ll be able to house up to 150 people, but because of COVID-19, they’ll have to start with about 66.

The facility will also provide veterinarian services for the pets of those staying here. Officials say they hope to have this opened by the end of this year.

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