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Homeless on $805 a month & facing a $1,210 fine for illegal camping

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POSTED October 31, 2017 1:20 a.m.

Norman J. Moore is getting his day in court.
The 70-year-old is facing a $1,210 fine after being cited by Manteca Police on Sept. 29 at 7:11 a.m. for illegal camping on private property in the 100 block of Pacific Road off of West Yosemite Avenue a football field or two distance from the SaveMart parking lot.
Moore — if you haven’t guessed it — is homeless.
His court appearance is Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 1:30 p.m. before Superior Court Judge Gus C. Barrera II at the Manteca courthouse at 315 Center St.
It marked the third time he was ordered by police to leave an illegal campsite in September.
Moore ended up on the streets in August when he was given a notice to vacate in what he described “as a very short” time from the home he was living in on Linden Way for a year and eight months with a friend — Balbir Sangura. Moore said Sangura was forced to sell his home for financial reasons.
That is when Moore found himself homeless for the second time in his life.
He receives $805 a month in Social Security retirement payments and has $7 in an account at U.S. Bank. That doesn’t leave him with a lot of options.
Not wanting to spend his days and nights on the streets he sought out help from the Manteca Gospel Rescue Mission on Sept. 4. That is where he learned about one of the few options open to him —Eskaton Manteca Manor.
A case worker helped him apply for an apartment at Manteca’s oldest subsidized low-income senior housing complex on the Eastwood Avenue loop street off Northgate Drive west of the shuttered Kmart store. He was told he could live there for about $250 a month. He said the possibility “would be perfect for me, a single man, and affordable for sure, (as) I get $805 Social Security retirement.
There is only one problem. There are no units available and the waiting list is long — very, very long.
A number of months before the Linden Way home was sold Moore was taking what money he could save from his monthly checks to buy tools to set up a bicycle shop in the garage. His intent was to earn extra income making custom electric bicycles tricycles and electric scooters. The tools and some of his other belongings are now in a Manteca storage unit. Prior to the home being sold, he looked for a place he could rent to set up a bike shop but to no avail.
Moore’s journey to the streets of Manteca started in Upper Michigan where he was born on Jan. 20, 1947. When he was 7 years old his family moved to the Bay Area and settled in Fremont. His father was a welder in a steel mill. After high school Moore was trained as a carpenter and worked in the trades. He married Jeanne in 1972 and bought a home in Fremont. He headed up to Alaska in 1974 to work on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. That allowed him to buy a former dairy farm in Minnesota in 1975. Two years later the couple divorced with the home in Fremont being quit-claimed to Jeanne and the dairy farm quit-claimed to Moore.
That’s when Moore decided to go into business for himself by opening a pizza parlor and deli in Perham, Minn. He couldn’t have picked a worst time. That’s when interest rates soared to 18 percent just before the economy tanked. He lost everything including the farm.
He returned to California and moved in with his mom. He used his tools to secure odd carpentry jobs. But then in 1984 he was arrested while driving drunk and lost his license making it impossible for him to get to work given employers required that he be licensed
In 1984 he moved out of his mother’s home and started camping in Niles Canyon between Pleasanton and San Jose. He was still driving his van and was able to secure odd jobs but after several citations for driving without a license, he had to let the van go. At that point he became completely homeless and resorted to riding a bicycle.
Until he reached the age he could start drawing Social Security, Moore said he found ways to support himself without any housing noting he “never took advantage of welfare or anything.”
Complicating his life was a right hip injury in 2004 made worse last year after developing sciatica pain in both hips.
Moore noted, “I cannot walk or stand for more than a few moments. It’s debilitating and very painful. In cannot exist outside any longer. I cannot function. .  . When I’m sitting I’m OK but I cannot stand or walk for any length of time or distance.”
So the $1,210 question is this: What does Judge Barrera do? The law is clear. If Moore was camping on private property without permission as the law prohibits, he is clearly in violation.
Pay a fine of any consequence is problematic at best.
And while heading east from the Bay Area allowed him to find a roof over his head for 20 months that he could afford, it’s doubtful he’ll be able to repeat that feat again unless, of course, the waiting list at Eskaton gets magically shorter.
And while Moore’s story might be a bit different, in the past week or so since the Bulletin printed stories about the city working with a firm to build 47 subsidized housing units for low income seniors on Cottage Avenue near the Highway 99 overcrossing, the paper has received four emails from seniors saying they wanted additional information as they were a rent hike or two away from being homeless.
Judge Baccera must respect the law and deliver justice.
Wish him luck. Even King Solomon would have a tough time with this one.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email

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