New homeless shelter opens in Modesto, offering beds and mental health services

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MODESTO, Calif. (KTXL) — After days of delay, a new homeless shelter in Modesto is finally open, but some new residents have concerns.

“This is everything I’m gonna take,” Virginia Van Pelt, who is experiencing homelessness, told FOX40.

All packed for her new home with a suitcase and mesh bag, it’s a transition she was not looking forward to.

“I think what they’re doing is putting everybody into that institutionalized living,” Van Pelt said.

Van Pelt says she helps clean up the streets of the city as part of the Downtown Streets Team.

She’s also part of the first group to move into the new shelter inside Modesto’s Salvation Army.

“We’re just working hard, at this point, to make sure that the right person gets placed at the right bed,” said city of Modesto spokesman Thomas Reeves.

While people are moving in, hundreds will be moved out of the Modesto Outdoor Emergency Shelter, known as MOES.

“The shelter under the 9th Street Bridge was always meant to be a temporary, urgent solution to the Ninth Circuit Court ruling,” Reeves said.

Along with beds, mental health and other services will be offered.

“I have seizures, and I have bipolar, and I have heart problems,” Van Pelt said, weeping.

Reeves said there are not enough beds to house everyone from MOES, but not everyone is planning on making the move to the new shelter.

“I don’t know what the rules are going to be like,” said Dren Martinez. “I don’t know if people above me or below me are gonna have an animal, and I just, I don’t know how I feel about it.”

Martinez said she’s made a tent her home and recently she got a new job, a new car, and hopefully soon, a place for her kids.

“If it’s an apartment or a studio, that’ll be my first step. That’ll get me some money saved up so I can move to something bigger so all my kids can come back. So, I can be a family again,” said Martinez.

Over the next several days, the new shelter will take in about 25 people at a time.

As for MOES, Reeves said the expected closure of the temporary encampment is mid-December.

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