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Godzilla helps trigger summit
Homeless town hall on Wednesday
Homeless individual is shown camping out in Library Park last year with his pilfered shopping car nearby. - photo by Bulletin file photo


• WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 29, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.

• WHERE: Manteca Transit Center, Moffat and South Main.

• PUBLIC COMMENT: 9 a.m. to noon, limited to 5 to 8 minutes per person

Manteca’s homeless problem is multi-faceted.

Since complaints started spiking this past summer, the following faces of Manteca’s on-the-street homeless have been painted:

• “Godzilla” — as homeless Scott Swafford calls himself — had been arrested 58 times in two years as of Aug. 5 for primarily alcohol-related offenses.

• Panhandlers who have proliferated in numbers although many do not believe most to be homeless per se.

• Drug users who were littering Library Park and its restrooms with needles.

• Uninhibited individuals who have no trouble urinating and defecating in full public view in neighborhoods as well as in commercial zones.

• A Washington state transplant — who says his family wants nothing to do with him — that has routinely tied up ambulance and fire crews for what turn out to be unnecessary trips to the emergency room.

• Fire bugs that started several fires including one on Union Road that raced through an abandoned house and into dry weeds threatening nearly a dozen nearby homes.

• Squatters that break into homes between renters damaging walls, storing junk, and using bathrooms that have no running water to flush toilets costing property owners thousands in lost revenue and clean-up costs.

• The truly destitute caught in bad situations, or trying to get their life on track after aging out of the foster child care system.

• Traditional “hobos” that elect for un-tethered life on the street.

It is against that backdrop that Manteca’s first ever community discussion about the needs of the homeless and/or the problems they create will take place.

The summit this Wednesday at the Manteca Transit Center at Moffat Boulevard and South Main Street is expected to attract detractors and supporters of the homeless as well as the homeless themselves.

It is designed to indentify the concerns of Manteca residents as well as businesses, identify the needs and/or concerns of Manteca’s homeless as well as identify available homeless services.

Coordinated by the Manteca Police Department, the 9 a.m. to noon session is designed for input. Speakers will be limited to 5 to 8 minutes apiece.

Then from 1 to 4 p.m. a “table top discussion” regarding what resources are available will take place. It is designed not only to collect information on all available resources but to determine how services are delivered, where they are delivered and when they are delivered.

The final segment is to determine the next step.

Although some have decried the summit as being short-sighted since the current council and all candidates except for mayoral hopeful Ben Cantu oppose a traditional homeless shelter for single adults, it is a major step.

Back in 1991 when the initial push was started by a coalition of churches to help the homeless, public debate was quickly short-circuited when it came to single adults. The churches opted instead to serve homeless families and mothers with kids. That didn’t meet much opposition save for neighbors of the first location suggested for the shelter that involved a home north of Manteca high between Yosemite Avenue and Center Street.

The push to finally take a focused approach to the homeless issues was made by Councilman Steve DeBrum. And while he doesn’t favor a shelter as Cantu does, he is open to other suggestions to address the problems the homeless create and their needs.