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New dorm-style shelter is big step for homeless people in Manteca

Homeless people in Manteca go from tents to temporary dorms
Homeless people in Manteca go from tents to temporary dorms 01:54

MANTECA — Up to 50 homeless people will have a new bed to sleep in on Tuesday night instead of a tent or their cars.

A shelter in Manteca aims to take people from tents to temporary dorms as the city aims to provide permanent housing in the future for the homeless.

You may think of tents and homeless camps being a big problem in bigger cities, but it's just as much an issue in Manteca.

A homeless camp was recently set up on Caltrans property, which is something Caltrans says is just as dangerous for campers as it is for drivers.

Starting now, there's a new option. Thanks to a $500,000 state grant, the His Way Refugee Center, is turning tents into temporary dorms.

"Once these individuals transfer out, then the next person on the waiting list will transition into the dorms," said Vielka Guarascio.

Guarascio is the head of the homeless and housing division for the City of Manteca. She said Manteca has nearly 240 unhoused individuals, and tent shelters won't be enough for the city's mission to bring everyone off the streets and eventually into permanent housing.

These dorm-style shelters will house 25 men and 25 women. Red bins are where they can keep their personal items, and the goal for the city is to bring everyone from the tents outside to the beds inside.

However, not everyone is for the dorms.

"At the same time, while stable living is a goal, it's a choice," said Alexander Deveux, who wants to have a choice. "Most of these people here choose not to."

"We do have individuals that do not want to come into the dorms and we expected that. If they're ready, it will be here," Guarascio said in response.

The city cannot force anyone into the shelters but says housing for people like Susan Martinez is still a priority.

"I'm going to utilize all the services they're going to provide," said Martinez.

She's been homeless for a year now and has stayed at the His Way Refuge Center for two months.

"I'm going to use this as a stepping stone," she said. "Get a job, and get into my own place. That's my goal."

Officials announced a permanent housing shelter is in the planning stage currently.

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