43-year-old studio Valencia says he's been homeless all his life.
“It’s very hard you know. You can’t sleep because people taking your blankets and that’s the only thing you really have," says Valencia.
He hangs out at Cesar Chavez Park in Modesto by day and his brother’s garage by night with his 10-year-old son, Studio Junior.
“It’s kind of rough out here. It’s hot every summer," says Studio Jr.
Now Stanislaus County is kicking off a new way to battle homelessness.
They’re using outreach specialists along with non-profit representatives to connect the homeless all at once.
“So different service providers go out into the field. It might be community service agencies signing up people for Cal Fresh out in the field. It might be United Way 211 out in the field connecting them with some of the services that they’re aware of," says Jeanette Fabela, Stanislaus County's Housing and Supportive Services manager.
The outreach will focus mainly on Modesto where the majority of the county's homeless live.
Modesto's last homeless count tallied over 1600 homeless, living on the streets, on the river or in parks.
Homeless willing to seek help then end up here at the county’s new Outreach and Engagement Center downtown.
Jimmy Yarnall, is a Behavioral Health and Outreach Specialist. He goes out with three others, along with volunteers, about three times a week, four to six hours a day.
Once homeless for 10 years, he now helps those who need help like he did.
“Well depending what they’re needs are. If it’s mental health, we’re going to link them to mental health services. If it’s substance abuse, we’re going to link them to substance abuse treatment," says Yarnnall.
We found homeless like 51-year-old Kelly Collins, watching her granddaughter and a friend in the park.
She crashes at relatives homes or lives on the streets. She likes the new outreach approach.
“I would love some help. I would love to get a house," says Collins.
The county says their new approach is two years in the making.
“We’ve taken research from all over the country and really have taken what works for our community," says Fabela.
And Studio Junior hopes it will work for him. His dream is to join the Army. He says he’s no different from anyone else.
“Our heart is the same," he said. "Different bodies but our hearts the same.”
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