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San Benito County’s homeless residents moved a step closer Tuesday to a permanent, year-round shelter now proposed for Southside Road, near the Winter Shelter currently in use in Hollister.

The county Board of Supervisors agreed Feb. 3 on the project development site, one of three possibilities considered for the potential home of the Homeless Shelter Facility of San Benito County. Supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of the proposed location in the proximity of Southside Hospital, at the site of the former county hospital. Supervisor Jerry Muenzer, who pointed to a potential price tag of $500,000 for possible demolition there, voted against the motion.

The proposed project would be built on the northernmost portion of the site on an existing parking lot. The site, which the county previously attempted to sell but did not complete a deal, is approximately two acres. The site is adjacent to the county’s corporation yard and the Council of Governments’ transit yard. 

Other sites considered were a 10.9-acre property on McCloskey Road, north of the GO Kids office behind the Health and Human Services Agency facility, and the two parcels remaining from the initial HHSA development.

Property owners in the greater downtown Hollister area brought up a couple of potential issues about a site outside of the city: Some among the homeless population locally have animals, while others who frequent the area face hurdles over lengthy commutes, such as the distance between downtown and the project site proposed but not finalized for Southside Road.

Supervisor Margie Barrios noted that in consideration of each of the locations, officials consider a balance between potential risk and reward. Supervisor Jaime De La Cruz, who represents District 5, supported the proposal for what he called “one center for all services.” “I’m all for it,” said De La Cruz.

The project, which is intended to provide living spaces for approximately 50 people, will be financed by a $1.5-million state of California Community Development Block Grant. The center could also include a commercial kitchen, restrooms and showers, a counseling room and a reception area. The exterior area will include enclosed dumpsters for trash and recycling, an area for limited parking and bicycle racks.