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County gives green light to second homeless shelter

Two months after Merced opened its first year-round homeless shelter for both men and women, plans are under way to build a second shelter right across the street.

The Merced County Board of Supervisors gave the OK Tuesday for the nonprofit Merced Rescue Mission to start work on building a 100-bed shelter at 15th and D streets.

The new shelter, expected to cost about $1.5 million, would sit on leased county land across the street from a 65-bed shelter that the Merced Community Action Agency opened in late May. Right now the land where the Rescue Mission plans to build is a parking lot for the county’s Department of Public Health.

Rescue Mission director Herb Opalek says it will take about two years to complete the project. When finished, the 14,000 square-foot facility will provide not only beds but life-changing skills for Merced’s homeless men, said Opalek.

"It will expand the number of available beds for an ever-growing homeless population, but unlike a shelter, this is a place where people will have their lives changed," said Opalek. "This will not be just a place to hide people overnight."