New halfway house in Merced forced to relocate

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Neighbors in Merced are shocked to learn the Rescue Mission was opening a halfway house near their homes.

After just days, the mission was asked to leave the neighborhood.

The mission has several halfway houses throughout the city to help people get back on their feet.

However, some neighbors say they were baffled to learn one was opening in their neighbor without out any warning. Now members of the mission are packing their bags and searching for another home.

They were not the neighbors that residents of this Southeast Merced neighborhood were expecting.

"I thought they would put them out in the country, or somewhere more towards Main Street," said Jaime Wright.

Wright says about five days ago, she noticed people moving into this house next door but it was not until days later she learned the Rescue Mission was renting out the home to turn it into a halfway house.

"First thing I thought in my mind sexual predators, or something like that because I have kids," said Wright.

Dennis Costine says none of the neighbors were notified of the new tenants.

"The main thing is the way it was done, they tried to slide in under the radar and not let anyone know what was going on," Costine said.

The Director of the Mission, Bruce Metcalfe, arrived to the location to speak with residents about their concerns.

Some they were worried about their safety. For others, they did not want their property value to be impacted but according to city officials, neighbors do not need to be notified if the Rescue Mission wants to rent a home for their programs.

Neal Camp said, "This is something I would like to see changed because it does involve the immediate area where that halfway house goes into place."

Ultimately the landlord of the home pulled the contract with the mission.

Metcalfe says they do not have sex offenders in their sober living house, just men with a troubled past trying to get integrated back into society.

He says after moving from their previous location, the problem is now finding a new spot for their Rescue Mission.

"We have ten locations all over town and that makes it a logistic nightmare....we'll be so happy when we can have a place where everybody wants us...we keep running into the problem where everyone wants us to have a place, but no wants us in their backyard," explained Metcalfe.

The house would have held about eight to 10 people. Metcalfe says, for now, they will have to wait until they can find them another home.

The mission is still in the process of looking around southeast Merced area for a plot of land where they build a new central location.
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