MERCED—Rapid progress is being made on a critical component of our region’s collaborative effort to address homelessness—Merced County’s “Navigation Center.”
The 15,000 square-foot facility will be constructed from modified shipping containers to save money, cut down on construction time, and provide for a versatile and modern look. The containers are currently being delivered, and will be placed during the week of Aug. 31. The County has contracted with the Merced Rescue Mission to manage the new facility which will operate 24/7.
The Navigation Center will serve as a low-barrier emergency sheltering option for individuals currently residing in public spaces, and other places not suitable for human habitation. This initial step transitioning individuals out of homelessness includes providing a safe and service-rich temporary shelter with connections to onsite supportive services. Clients will be assigned a case manager. The goal is to link Navigation Center clients to permanent supportive and affordable housing units as quickly as possible, while simultaneously working on barriers to sustainability such as lack of income and behavioral health challenges.
The design includes approximately 75 beds, kitchen and dining facilities, laundry, classroom, clinic,and office space for support service providers. The Merced Rescue Mission is working with partners, including businesses and organizations in the neighborhood, to establish a “Good Neighbor Policy.”
The Navigation Center, which is expected to open in late 2020, is one element of the proposed regional plan to address homelessness, a collaborative effort between Merced County, its six cities, and the CoC. Other elements include outreach and engagement, transitional housing, long-term supportive housing, and the system supports needed to coordinate these activities. Other elements include outreach and engagement, transitional housing, long-term supportive housing, and the system supports needed to coordinate these activities. Earlier this year, the Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with the Merced Rescue Mission providing other communities outside of the City of Merced with access to similar services on an appropriate scale by renting 10 homes distributed across Merced County that will be similarly used as low-barrier Navigation Centers.