New Modesto shelter opening delayed as homeless community waits to move in

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MODESTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- As an emergency outdoor shelter in Modesto prepared to close for good, multiple homeless people were packing up their belongings and getting ready to move into the city’s newest shelter.

The problem is the shelter’s opening has been delayed.

The beds were made, the storage was waiting and the laundry machines were ready to roll at Modesto’s newest shelter inside The Salvation Army.

So, what was the hold-up?

“Well, that’s easy, the bureaucracy thing is we live in a litigious society. So the bureaucracy is there to make sure that we don’t get sued,” said Salvation Army Corps Officer Major Harold Laubach.

Major Laubach said they were waiting for a signature on a signed document that would legally protect Stanislaus County and his organization.

“We’re hoping, knock on wood if I could find wood somewhere, we’re hoping that is tomorrow,” Laubach told FOX40.

The shelter was originally supposed to open last Friday but Stanislaus County Deputy Executive Officer Becky Meredith said there was never a hard timeline.

“We’ve tried to keep the date a little fluid or a little flexible because we didn’t know when we were going to get this signed operator agreement back,” she said.

While officials waited for that contract, some of the 400 homeless people living at the Modesto Outdoor Emergency Shelter were preparing to move. MOES is set to close in early December.

“We’re talking stress, OK. I’m disabled, in a wheelchair,” said Debra Morgon, who is homeless. “I’ve got my son, he’s got me and we’re doing our best to get the heck out of here.”

Morgon said she was not looking forward to leaving.

“I’m grateful that they’re trying to put me in someplace,” she told FOX40. "That is too much for me to do there. I can’t do it without the help of my son.”

She said she depends on her adult son to take care of her and she was afraid she would be separated from him if they are sheltered. But Laubach said families in Morgon’s situation will be allowed to stay together in co-ed spaces.

“Would not separate from him for anything in the world,” Morgon said.

Meredith said when the shelter does open, which she anticipated will be early next week, it will, hopefully, help countless men and women stay off the streets for good.

“It’s an ongoing effort. It’s going to be an ongoing effort,” she said.

The city has been working to proactively address the issues that may arise from closing the emergency shelter. People may see more police presence in the city.

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