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City Manager's Blog

Feb 22

County, City Propose Next Phase of the Short-Term Homeless Stabilization Plan

Posted on February 22, 2019 at 5:18 PM by Thomas Reeves

Stanislaus County Chief Executive Officer Jody Hayes and I are pleased to announce a proposal for the next phase of Modesto's short-term homeless stabilization plan.  On Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors and the Modesto City Council will vote on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which establishes a creative arrangement between our two jurisdictions and the Salvation Army aimed at increasing the transitional housing beds available to those experiencing homelessness in the Modesto community.  

The proposed MOU, another first of its kind in addressing homelessness, seeks to add 180 additional beds to those existing – roughly 150 – at the Salvation Army shelter on 9th and D Streets in downtown Modesto.   As part of the MOU, the county will lease space from the Salvation Army to provide these high-access shelter beds, and will lease space from the city for the one-stop Access Center.  As a partner in the MOU, the city will be making substantial infrastructure improvements to the facility, including to Salvation Army’s sewer and water lines, and parking lots.  The city will also enter into a no-cost lease with Salvation Army to expand its footprint into an adjacent lot.  

Government alone is not the solution to the homeless crisis, and we must rely on other public and private partners in bringing resources to the table.

Several private organizations have partnered with the county and city on this project, and have pledged financial resources to improving the Salvation Army facility.  Beard Land Improvement Company, E. & J. Gallo Winery, and Stanislaus Food Products, have expressed their commitment to meeting the needs of this critical population.  

These private companies are working hard to assist the City and County with solutions to help our citizens get out of homelessness, in the downtown area and beyond.  Their positive attitudes are reflected in the sentiment, "If we don't try something, we won't improve the homeless situation in the downtown area." 

With this MOU, the city and county have reaffirmed our dedication to the overall strategies of the Focus on Prevention program and, specifically, breaking the cycle of homelessness.  Salvation Army provides for the transitional housing needs of those who will one day need to leave the emergency shelter tents under the 9th Street Bridge before finding permanent housing.  

In the four months after Beard Brook Park was opened to camping:
  • Over 400 homeless individuals called Beard Brook Park their temporary home;
  • 69 received at least one supportive service;
  • 43 received assistance with social service benefits; 
  • 14 received assistance from the Homeless Court Program to help resolve charges against them;
  • 36 were placed in an emergency shelter; and
  • 24 were placed in transitional, rapid, or permanent supportive housing.
I'm excited to share this news with you, and I will share more about our overall plan in the coming months, as we strive to provide more long-term solutions to homelessness.
Jan 23

City Offers Relief for Federal Employees

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 12:59 PM by Thomas Reeves

At last night’s meeting, the Modesto City Council made the bold move to try and make life a little easier for those directly impacted by the government shutdown.  Based on emergency action taken at the meeting, the city manager has authorized city staff to temporarily suspend late fees and other penalties resulting from late payments of utilities to the city.  This temporary policy is specifically for those current U.S. Government employees that have been and remain furloughed because of the government shutdown.  

We were all hopeful that a federal solution to this critical issue would have been reached before the posting of the January 22 City Council meeting agenda, however, it was determined that furloughed U.S. Government employees would continue to not be paid for the indefinite future.  Thus, an emergency item was presented and adopted by the full council.  

The city of Modesto recognizes that U.S. Government employees provide critical services within and in the surrounding areas of the city.  These services are essential in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of all Modesto residents.  

We recognize the financial constraints placed on these employees, having not received two successive pay chances, may require them to have to choose between paying a utility bill and putting food on their table.  

Therefore, effective immediately, the city is temporarily suspending late fees and other penalties resulting from late payments of utility fees, and will work with residents to ensure a payment plan can be made according to individual circumstances.  This policy will continue until the shutdown has ended, but will be reevaluated in 60 days, should the government not reopen by then.

For questions, and to signal your interest in participating, have your proof of eligibility ready and contact our customer service department at (209) 577-5395.  

This is one small way the city of Modesto is working to reimagine government.
Dec 28

Report: Purchasing Division Investigations

Posted on December 28, 2018 at 3:51 PM by Thomas Reeves

Back in 2017, the city found an unacceptable practice in its purchasing division and, after a series of investigations and process improvements, I’m sharing what is being done to avoid this practice from ever occurring again.  

In a nutshell, over multiple years, different city employees, holding different titles and responsibilities, allowed for a practice of augmenting contracts without required city council approval, which became a repeated chain of events.  

That conduct was unprofessional, irresponsible, and significantly undermined the public confidence in staff, the council, and the city.  In addition to the outright deceptive actions involved in cases where agreements went above council-approved dates and amounts, historical practices and culture created a “Don’t see, don’t tell” attitude, and resulted in employees not taking ownership for the organization.  

City leadership – mostly new at this point – tackled this issue head-on and engaged in a massive review of what occurred and how it will be corrected.  What started as a general review of a limited number of contracts quickly became a much more detailed examination of our processes, and over a thousand additional agreements.  

We hired a team of experts to help with the review and investigation into the city’s purchasing practices to determine how this occurred.  Public Management Group was hired as the project lead and reviewed the city’s internal practices and culture; Hudson Henderson was hired as external auditors to audit the city’s systems; and Armistead Research and Investigative Services was hired to conduct an internal personnel investigation.  

These types of investigations are never fun and always intrusive, and yet, by design, they are a necessary step in the evolution of any organization.  We’re sharing the entire collection of reports below for your review.  We want the community to know what happened and how we’re growing.  At the end of the day, let it be said of this city, it’s not what we did, but how we learned from it, and what we did to ensure it never happens again.

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