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‘Ain’t no nation like a donation’

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David, a homeless man who goes by the name of “Patriot” makes his way down the 200 block of East Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca Wednesday pulling his belongings on a makeshift cart. He said he...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/

POSTED September 21, 2017 1:29 a.m.

One thing is for sure when it comes to the homeless in Manteca — or elsewhere for that matter — is that they are always on the move.
A short talk with an older man who had parked his van filled to the ceiling with belongings along Powers Avenue adjacent to Lincoln Park indicated he was “passing through” and may end up being in Manteca for a few days.
It isn’t unusual to see several similar vehicles parked along Powers or in the parking lot across the street next to the fire station that function as homes on wheels for the homeless.
Over the past few months the faces and vehicles have changed.
While there are some homeless with cars that are more or less Manteca residents, most are on the move. Mobile homeless — if you will — is another dimension to the homeless issue.
Homeless is home grown. There is no question about it. But part of the ranks are mobile to a degree such as the guy who calls himself “Patriot” who has been around Manteca for several days as part of a journey he says he wants to end in Redding.
At one time he might have been called a hobo or a transient.
For whatever reason homeless with vehicles — who also have the right to sleep in their vehicles as long as it doesn’t conflict with the law in terms of where  they park — seems to be on a slight uptick recently. That said, if you went back three years or so it was much more common to see homeless parked in vehicles for the night hidden out of sight behind businesses in the central district and sometimes at city parks.
It’s a reminder the homeless situation is fluid and has been around for a lot longer than most people think.
The mobile homeless, so to speak, also gives fodder to those who adamantly opposed the opening of a single adult homeless shelter in Manteca believing “if you build it, they will come.”

Business owners
‘guard’ Library Park
two evenings a week
Downtown business owners have joined forces on an informal basis to launch “Project: Take Back Manteca.”
On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. they are “guarding” Library Park  so kids can play, adults can exercise, and groups such as the baton twirlers, Manteca Quilters and others can use the park without being bothered.
Brenda Franklin of Tipton’s and others started the effort after hearing elderly women felt unconformable navigating their way through homeless and others gathered outside the library when leaving Manteca Quilters meetings. As a result were dropping their membership and forgoing the social activity.
The membership has plummeted 25 percent going from 160 to 120, according to Manteca Quilters President Janet Dyk.
Mothers with younger children have expressed the same concern as to why they weren’t taking their children to enjoy the playgrounds installed as part of the recent $1.2 million park expansion.
The “guarding” operates on the premise that having people using the park discourages those who are hanging out there for other reasons whether they are homeless or not.
Their effort is reflected in a larger number of people — primarily homeless — that are now gathering at the Lincoln Park group picnic area in the evening and after dark.

Two new homeless
initiatives on the way?
City Manager Tim Ogden told the Manteca City Council Tuesday that municipal staff is working on  putting two new initiatives addressing homeless concerns in place.
He expects to have a presentation at an October council meeting.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email

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