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Is community committed to homeless effort?

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POSTED August 24, 2014 11:38 p.m.

Next month’s community summit on the homeless could end up being much ado about nothing.

That’s Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford’s concern as he sets about organizing the gathering with Councilman John Harris is a bid to find a solution to the city’s growing homeless issues.

A date has yet to be set for the summt.

“There needs to be a commitment by the community or it (any solutions) won’t work, in my opinion,” Weatherford noted.

And while Manteca Police have stepped up pressure on the indiscretions of the homeless at Library Park, residents in various neighborhoods are now complaining all that ended up happening was sending the homeless on their streets and into their neighborhood parks.

Weatherford said those involved will need to “buy into the solutions” both with time and money to make them work much as the churches behind the HOPE Family Shelter did nearly 22 years ago.

“If not, nothing will work,” the mayor said.

Earlier this month Weatherford said “it may well be time” to consider a homeless shelter for men as the city’s homeless problems continue to escalate. But at the same time he warned, “if you build it, they will come” in reference to a shelter attracting other homeless to the community. That’s why he said it was important non-profits, churches, and the community to find a working solution for the long-haul.

In the past there has been strong community resistance to a homeless shelter for single adults. Such a shelter could be a proposed solution.  Another potential solution expected to be brought up is a day drop-in center where the homeless could meet during the day, get help, and have a way to clean up for job interviews.

Police Chief Nick Obligacion has said there are two types of homeless — those on the street by circumstance and those there by choice who pursue it as a lifestyle.

He wants to help those who want help and make it clear to those that don’t that illicit behavior will not be tolerated.

The council has given him the go ahead to pursue adoption of municipal laws as well as making some physical changes to parks to try and get a better handle on homeless issues in Manteca. They include:

*Instituting a homeless encampment ban.

*Possibly banning animals within Library and Wilson parks.

*Establishing clothing requirements for parks.

*Banning public urination.

*Prohibiting scavenging in recycling and waste containers for the purpose of recycling.

*Temporary closure of the Library Park restrooms.

*Changes in available seating at Library and Wilson parks.

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