New program turns Modesto motel into housing for 21 homeless families

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MODESTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- What was once a motel in Stanislaus County is now housing for families in need.

A motel room has become a small, safe home for Bluewyn Meresa and her soon-to-be 3-year-old son, Yafete.

“We got our own space and our own private room, thank God,” Meresa told FOX40.

Before the room, Meresa and her son were living in a shelter.

“It’s cold outside and it’s hard to be out there,” she said.

Through a Stanislaus County program, Meresa, along with 21 other families, recently moved into the former South 9th Street motel in Modesto.

“When families are able to stabilize, then they can work on the pieces of their lives that allow them to transition into self-sufficiency,” said Leng Power, the homelessness and housing manager for the county’s Community Services Agency.

Power said the new program was modeled after the county's successful Empire Cold Weather Shelter project.

The motel owner agreed to lease the property for the next five years to the county, according to Power.

The once-homeless families are now staying there rent-free.

Power told FOX40 families can stay at the motel for up to six months and during that time, they have access to important services.

“Families do have to be engaged with the case plan to find permanent housing,” Power explained.

Meresa said she used to be a nursing assistant and has been looking for work as a caretaker.

“Working so hard so we can have the place to live,” she explained.

The single mother said she is grateful for the opportunity to build a foundation for her small, loving family.

“But we got this housing and I can save some money and we feel warm,” she said.

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