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56 homeless & counting
Manteca census of unsheltered homeless
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A group of homeless talk with Manteca Police this past summer at Wilson Park behind the Post office. - photo by Bulletin file photo

There are 56 unsheltered homeless in Manteca.

The official results of the Jan. 27 homeless count conducted by various agencies is double the 23 that a similar count revealed in 2011.

Police Chief Nick Obligacion noted organizers believe the actual count is even higher with one placing it closer to at least 72 or one out of every 1,000 Manteca residents.

The count revealed there were 10 couples, one family and the rest were single adults. Fifty percent received food stamps or general assistance.

Meanwhile, the two-pronged effort to address the homeless problem being coordinated in part by Obligacion and at least 18 community-based organization continues to help the homeless in need that want assistance to get off the streets and is keeping pressure on those who basically want to live by their own rules.

Police are continuing to verbally warn homeless camping illegally to break down their makeshift housing by a set time or else it will be removed and disposed of by crews of individuals doing court-ordered community service.

A local group is working with HOPE Ministries to open a day center for the homeless in the former Manteca News building at Yosemite and Fremont avenues.

The day center would be designed to help homeless wanting to get off the streets access various services. Homeless veterans, for example, can get help providing they connect with the right agencies. Other services including helping them secure proper ID and documents critical not just to obtain assistance but also to secure jobs. Other day centers operate as addresses for the homeless to use in a job search.

Homeless advocates are also working with an employer willing to provide jobs for those wanting to get off the streets.

Also, InnerCity Action is continuing its free Wednesday barbecues for the homeless in the former Metal Tech building on Moffat Boulevard. The homeless also are provided with toiletries and other items.

The ministry also makes beds available for homeless men and women who want to get off the street. They provide transportation to their Stockton-based shelter. So far they have met with some success getting one man off the street and eventually a job that allowed him to secure housing for himself and his wife who was also homeless. Several others have also taken up the ministry on their offer so far.

Obligacion and representatives of the 18 organizations met two weeks ago to update everyone on steps being taken. They will meet every two months to make sure that the effort to help the homeless and address quality of life issues that they create continues to move forward.

“It is important for everyone to understand the effort will take time,” Obligacion said.

 Obligacion is hopeful that progress being made that has led to fewer complaints about homeless issues from businesses and residents will continue as the weather warms. Key to that, the chief noted, is for people to refrain from giving money to panhandlers and instead provide it to non-profits that are working to help homeless and eventually get those willing to accept assistance off the streets.

Also, resource cards that list services available for the homeless as well as places where people can donate to help the effort to reduce homeless issues are being considered for a wider community distribution. Currently police officers and some stores are distributing cards that list resources to help the homeless only to the homeless.

• • •

More homeless

besides the 56

The 56 unsheltered homeless count doesn’t provide a complete picture of homelessness in Manteca.

A homeless count is conducted every two years and is used to help secure countywide funding from the federal government for homeless services and other efforts to help the very low-income.

There are three generally accepted ways to count the homeless including those that are completely unsheltered and living somewhere on the streets or trespassing on private property to seek shelter.

Schools, for example, are required to count homeless students differently.

They count kids who — along with their families — are doubling or even tripling up in an apartment or house with other families. Also kids who don’t have a permanent residence and are moving at least every six months are included in the school’s count. Those are typically bouncing from couches, to garages, to budget motels, and sometimes for a few days in a car parked in the street with the rest of their family.

Manteca Unified districtwide has 700 such homeless students.