New homeless facility opens in Merced County

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- A new $6.8 million facility aimed at addressing homelessness opened in Merced on Wednesday, less than a year after its groundbreaking.

Merced County has contracted with the Rescue Mission to manage the "Navigation Center," which will operate 24/7.

Wednesday's ribbon-cutting ceremony symbolized years of hard work and a collaborative effort by local leaders and non-profits to bring this 15,000 sq ft "Navigation Center" to South Merced.

"I believe we're putting together a model of what can happen in communities to collaborate and work as a team, to accomplish great things, help get people off the street and move them towards productive lives," said Merced Co. Rescue Mission CEO Bruce Metcalf.

The pet-friendly center will provide assistance for individuals experiencing homelessness and who need immediate services, including food and shelter.

The facility has 75 beds and features everything from a kitchen to dining area and clinic.

Clients will be assigned a case manager with the goal of getting people off the streets and into affordable housing as quickly as possible.

"They'll come through and meet with a counselor, meet with a case worker who will be able to discern and figure out what exactly their needs are in housing and healthcare and a variety of areas that will help that person's needs," said Metcalf.

The most unique part of this Navigation Center is that it was all built using former shipping containers -- this helped save money and construction time.

The project was modeled after a similar facility in Los Angeles.

"In re-purposing the shipping container its significant because we're kind of re-purposing lives. People that are homeless were born one day as a beautiful young child and and life circumstances have them into a position that most of them don't want to be in," said Merced Co. Supervisor Lloyd Pareira.

Assemblyman Adam Gray of Merced was a catalyst in helping secure the $7 million in grants to make the navigation center a reality.
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