Jim Romig is a Los Banos resident working with the Merced County Rescue Mission as a homeless court navigator. The Merced County Rescue Mission operates three homes in Los Banos and consists of roughly 26 individual facilities that services all walks of homelessness.
Romig explained, “My job, and priority, is to locate homeless individuals, who are residing in homeless shelters, who have court cases and fines to assist them in getting them resolved through the homeless court program.” Sometimes cases can be reduced or dropped through programs or community service.
The idea here is to offer people experiencing homelessness a hand up, not a handout.
“This homeless court program is designed to get our homeless going in the right direction in life through working toward goals and making good decisions every day,” Romig said.
According to Romig, “There are a little more than 800 homeless people in Merced County of which roughly half are housed in shelters every night.” The rescue mission provides shelter, regular showers, and three meals per day in their facilities. These facilities have been constructed in recent years and receive regular maintenance.
Other programs offer four- and five-bedroom housing which are available as bridging and sober living environments.
Romig is interested in connecting with business owners and residents who want to be a part of the solution. Whether or not the interested party has felt the effects of homelessness, each citizen has the capacity to be a part of the solution to the homeless crisis affecting the community.
Merced County Rescue Mission CEO, Bruce Metcalf has been working with local officials, business owners, staff and ordinary citizens. They meet weekly and have come up with a plan to have enough facilities to house all the homeless in Merced County in two to four years.
Regarding potentially effective methods for addressing homelessness, Romig said, “There is a lot more to just housing the homeless to make it work. We, here at MCRM have a system that is tested and proven. Out of the 85 plus staff personnel that work here at MCRM 85 to 90 percent have gone through the program or a program. That in itself is success.”
Romig spoke at the town hall hosted by Mayor Paul Llanez on July 26. Llanez submitted an application to the state of California for grant money that would secure additional long-term housing to unhoused residents that same day.