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City Manager's Blog

Nov 19

MOES is Closing

Posted on November 19, 2019 at 9:30 AM by Thomas Reeves

The year 2019 has brought us many new and exciting projects; one of those being the opening of our city’s now acclaimed Modesto Outdoor Emergency Shelter (MOES). Since April, MOES has served over 700 individuals, and has consistently maintained a population of more than 400 people. Included in the larger figure, are 250 people who have exited MOES, 33 of whom secured permanent housing in some form.  Additionally, since its opening, over 3,100 individual services have been provided to MOES campers. 

MOES was always intended to be a temporary solution, and as we reach the end of this year, it is time to close down this temporary project.  As a means to transition MOES residents to the next stages of the housing continuum, we have a variety of alternatives lined up for the new year! Each story is unique to the individual experiencing homelessness and that is why we are currently case managing every resident at MOES to determine if they are willing to move indoors.

The Stanislaus County new Access Center Emergency Shelter, located on the Salvation Army’s Berberian Center campus, is set to open next week and will offer 182 beds in preparation for the MOES closing, plus an additional 50 beds at the Berberian Shelter’s existing operation. Designed as a low-barrier shelter, individuals and their partners, pets (spayed/neutered with up-to-date vaccinations), and possessions are welcome. 

Unfortunately, homelessness has and continues to be a concern in the City and we are making strategic efforts to aid the most vulnerable in our community. Through a Coordinated Entry Process at the new Access Center Emergency Shelter, the vulnerability of our homeless individuals will be assessed and priority given to those with the highest need.  The access center, that is planned to open in January, will house case managers and outreach teams ready to help address any obstacles that may be impeding residents from accepting other housing services.

Some may be concerned with the number of beds provided at the emergency shelters but I assure you these are not the only beds available.  As individuals transition into new housing stages, we are also increasing the number of beds through the housing continuum, ultimately preluding to our affordable housing goal. Between the City and Stanislaus County, we currently have a total of 2,729 beds available throughout the housing continuum, ranging from emergency shelters to affordable ownership. Not to mentions the additional 894 beds soon to be added. These beds are provided through partnered organizations within the city and county, such as Center for Human Services, Children’s Crisis Center, Haven’s Women Center, Family Promise, and more.

Despite our best efforts, we do anticipate a temporary surge back into the community of individuals who decline emergency shelter or other housing services offered, and are implementing a strict accountability element to our efforts.  The Modesto Police Department recently developed a robust plan to address illegal camping and vagrancy. This plan includes the deployment of the Crime Reduction Team (CRT), the Homeless Engagement and Response Team (HEART), the Crime Prevention Unit, and other tactical groups to patrol areas experiencing high vagrancy related issues. As we contact individuals experiencing homelessness, they will be directed to the Salvation Army, or other facilities with available beds where we hope they will embrace the opportunity to begin the road to a full life.

When creating solutions to urgent issues we constantly keep in mind the safety and well-being of our city as a whole. With the help of our partners and staff, we aspire to reduce homelessness in our community one step at a time, and we know there is more work to be done. 

For now, as we share patience through this evolving program, please take advantage of several resources:
  • If you feel unsafe because of an act of vagrancy, call the police department’s non-emergency line at (209) 552-2470.
  • To report vagrancy-related clean-ups, use the GoModesto app or GoModesto on the city’s website.
  • As always, for emergencies, call 9-1-1
MOES Is Closing
Nov 13

Final Investigation into April 2018 Accident

Posted on November 13, 2019 at 10:13 AM by Thomas Reeves

April 9, 2018 is a date that will forever serve as a reminder of a City employee lost on the job. A member of our Public Works Department family, Tyrone Hairston died while performing streetlight maintenance.

After the incident, the City performed three investigations aimed at learning what went wrong, and how accidents like this could be avoided in the future.  The results of the final investigation have now been shared with the City.

We’re sharing the results of this latest investigation out of an abundance of transparency.  There was messaging about transparency when we began the Serious Accident Review Team (SART) investigation, and we’re repeating that messaging now.  Full disclosure is of the utmost importance as we seek to change the culture at the City.

This latest investigation is a continuation of the City’s safety program overhaul.  In particular, this seeks to close the loop on the SART report which brought into question whether others in management should be held responsible for the death of Hairston.

We have reviewed the full report and have found it to be thorough and fair, and based on the findings in this report, the City has found that no additional disciplinary action is warranted against supervisors or managers still employed by the City.  

We all recognize that training is an essential component of any job function at the City, and the investigation found that the employees had been provided the necessary safety-related trainings for their specific job functions for which they were hired.  

The study also found serious failings by the supervisors in providing certain safety-related policies, procedures, and Personal Protective Equipment to Hairston and his coworkers.

The investigation makes clear that although certain policies and procedures existed, they were not being consistently followed, and that is a key driving force in changes being made across the entire organization.  It is also fully acknowledged that new policies and procedures were necessary as a result of the incident, and those have been implemented organization-wide.  

We’ve learned a lot since April 9th, and we will continue to strive toward a safe and secure work environment.

Since April 2018, the City has:
  • Hired a Safety Officer who will implement the steps recommended by the SART investigation to make sure this type of tragedy does not happen again.  The Safety Officer is providing necessary trainings and implementing safety programs.
  • Instituted many of the recommendations within the SART report including having monthly safety meeting and more frequent job site visits with division managers.
  • Stepped up its record keeping to ensure trainings and certifications are current.
  • Implemented safety tailgate meetings at the start of each job.
The City is investing heavily in training, personal protective wear, standard operating procedures, and equipment.

Nothing is more important than our employees' safety. Getting them home safely each and every day is our priority, and if we are cultivating a culture of safety in the workplace, our employees' family and our residents will be better served.  

Safety is everyone’s responsibility, and as I've told our employees, if you see something that is contributing to an unsafe work environment, say something to our team.

November 2019 Report

Nov 08

HUD Releases Favorable City Audit

Posted on November 8, 2019 at 11:08 AM by Thomas Reeves

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awards Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to entitlement communities to carry out a wide range of community development activities directed toward revitalizing neighborhoods, economic development and providing improved community facilities and services. The City of Modesto receives HUD entitlement grants on a formula basis, this funding gets renewed each year if the city meets certain requirements, and therefore a monitoring audit is conducted each year.

This year, HUD conducted an on-site monitoring audit from August 12, 2019 to August 16, 2019 of the City’s CDBG Program and Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). Because the grant process is so extensive, the monitoring principal was created to expose any findings of fraud, waste, and mismanagement. Among many reasons, the monitoring audit is formulated to verify grant funds are being used appropriately and to ensure program effectiveness and compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Monitoring also allows grantees to make improvements, maintain communication with HUD, and evaluate their overall performance. The review can include the tracking of individual activities and documenting of accomplishments.

After an extensive evaluation process, the results of the audit determined that the city has been in compliance with program regulation and requirements and no findings of violations or concerns were found. Additionally, HUD applauded our improvements on our CDBG program management in conjunction with our early submission of the 2019-2020 Annual Action Plan. It is great to hear that we are on track in meeting our affordable housing goals. Receiving and maintaining HUD Entitlement Grant funding is imperative to our community’s need for services and activities. In order to upkeep the program’s livelihood we must ensure that every project we set forth meets certain qualifications. 

This year’s audit came to us as a breath of fresh air compared to previous Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit results received in the past. Our program staff went through a lot of transitions in previous years but has now been able to reinvent its management system to benefit all parties involved. Thus, new checks and balances were established to ensure mistakes are not repeated. The City is currently in the process of preparing its 2020-2024 Five-Year Consolidated Plan regarding housing and community development programs as well as Regional Analysis of Impediments to Fair housing choice. We are also in the midst of preparing the 2020-2021 Annual Action Plan. These plans are required by HUD in order for the City to receive federal funds. 

We would like to give a big thank you to our HUD staff who has worked tirelessly on maintaining program standards and deadlines. This audit attests to the dedication that is put into cultivating services that greater serve our community. It is through grants like these that we are able to provide Annual Action Plans that better voice the needs of our residents and overall addresses issues surrounding affordable housing, homelessness, and community development needs within Modesto.