Hundreds of Stanislaus County’s Homeless to Move Into Tents Under Modesto Bridge

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MODESTO -- Some of Stanislaus County's 1,600 homeless will transition into new tents in Modesto Wednesday morning.

Eventually, 300 tents will fill up space under the 9th Street bridge. One hundred and twenty of them were already in place Tuesday.

The tents will be a 10-by-10-foot waterproof space with some of the comforts of home, like braced walls and access to bathrooms, as well as handwashing stations.

The "Qamp" will serve as a no-barrier shelter. Your dog, your criminal history and your mental health status will not keep you out. City staff is just requiring people to check in at their on-site office and provide their name.

For Teresa Bye, who just got booted from the motel room she and her boyfriend moved into last April, the space would not be her first choice.

"Versus sleeping in the street, you bet it's better," Bye said.

As volunteers outfitted her with blankets and warm clothes at the outdoor campsite approved by the city last year in Beard Brook Park, others nearby, like Michael Wood and his dog Choco, prepared to move to the other side of Morton Road Wednesday.

"Thing of it is rent's too expensive here for the places they have to rent," Wood told FOX40.

Forced out onto the streets after a falling out with his roommate and remodeling business partner, Wood found a home once the current camp was nudged into existence by a 2018 ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

That ruling said since there weren't enough no-barrier shelter beds available in Modesto, the city couldn't cite people for sheltering out in the open.

The tents are the next phase of trying to comply with the courts.

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Modesto has been able to accomplish in five months what some cities have been talking about for years.

"We've been able to really pull all of our partners together and say, 'We've got to do it now. We can't wait any longer. We can't keep talking about it,'" said city spokesperson Thomas Reeves.

Wood said many whose current tents have been ravaged by storms in the last two weeks are eager to make the move.

"Yeah, people really are. Plus, we can get on with the rest of our lives," he said.

Some of that will undoubtedly involve the connection to job placement, addiction treatment and mental health services that will be offered.

Since September, the city of Modesto has spent $300,000 retooling its approach to the homeless.

However innovative, this solution is meant to be temporary. After six months, city staff plan to have all guests connected to a more stable living situation and return the land to Tuolumne Regional Park Trust.


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