It’s been a year since Manteca Police initiated its homeless efforts by deploying Community Resource Officer Mike Kelly to help those ready to get off the streets as well as address crime issues they create.
Kelly has helped 139 get off the streets since he started on July 15, 2017. Of those, 100 are still in programs or haven’t returned to their old haunts having been placed with relatives or turned their lives around. That represents a success rate of almost 72 percent.
Kelly said he firmly believes the quality of life in Manteca has improved since he and his team of volunteers started tackling the homeless problem in the parks and streets.
He has been building relationships with the homeless though contacts. His success includes several men and women he thought he would never get off the streets but have through the city’s efforts.
Kelly said that helping the homeless is really a community effort involving the churches, the community businesses and the people of the city working together to help those less fortunate throughout the downtown, the parks and the residential areas.
One man he is very proud of helping was Daniel Hernandez, 44, formerly a chemical technician in Livermore who had been injured in an accident with a big rig on Airport Way in mid-December of last year. Kelly located the man who had been living at the Motel 6 in Manteca six weeks ago and changed his life for the better – finding him a job.
Hope Ministries Outreach Director Michelle Whitaker has been responsible for taking another 128 individuals off the street — or preventing them from ending up there — since March 30.
Two families representing 11 individuals are now being housed at the Yosemite Avenue Hope Family shelter satellite on Yosemite Avenue at Sequoia Street.
Kelly said he first contacted Whitaker at the shelter two and a half years ago and got all of her contacts that were reliable resources to go to work on the homeless situation throughout the city.
A task force has been established to aid the homeless through the efforts of Dennis Buettner from San Joaquin County Mental Health that meets the second Tuesday of every month on Center Street. It involves a committee of concerned citizens share their concerns and their ongoing efforts.
“After we began our outreach efforts we had two summit meetings with the public and one with the homeless at the Transit Center,” Kelly said. “Quite a few people showed up.”.
They had homeless members of the community giving their testimonials that saw four to five members of the audience crying, he said. Other meetings saw the formulation of committees assigning volunteers to a variety of tasks including housing, rehab, follow-ups, and reunification with families and jobs.
Volunteers also taught homeless individuals how to create their own job resumes and how to prepare for interviews when having a serious job appointment.
Outreach director Whitaker noted that Hope Family Shelter does not accept cash donations but she does have a list of people who need help with bus and plane tickets to send people back to their families in Arizona and beyond.
“I have people who are anonymous and are willing to help,” Whitaker said.
They both noted that the homeless in Manteca have been given too much in food and clothes by members of the public with much of it either thrown away or sold for drugs. They both asked that those donating it to the Hope Family Shelter at 520 South Union Road adding that it will be put to good use.
They noted that those on the streets receive some $200 a month from the county welfare system using EBT cards with others on Social Security. When they are given food by residents — sometimes up to nine times a day – it is often just thrown away.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org