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Police chief advises council against declaring a shelter crisis in Manteca
A homeless individual sleeps on the sidewalk in the 100 block of West Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca. - photo by Bulletin file photo

A bid by a Manteca coalition to possibly seek a one-time state grant of $1.4 million to open a more robust resource center for the homeless may not require the City Council to declare a housing crisis exists in Manteca.

Police Chief Jodie Estarziau is urging the council Tuesday not to declare a housing crisis in Manteca. Declaring a shelter crisis is a key criteria to obtaining a share of the $7.1 million San Joaquin County is receiving through the state Homeless Emergency Assistance Program (HEAP) specifically to construct a homeless shelter or provide rental assistance or subsides.

However, that is not necessarily how the coalition see things as they are asking the council to “support approval of an emergency shelter crisis declaration” for the City of Manteca that would then allow the collaborative effort of five local non-profit agencies to establish a more effective resource center for the homeless.

Estarziau noted that the criteria needed to declare a shelter emergency includes a high count of unsheltered homeless determined during a specific point in time census.

The police chief in a memo to the council noted that HEAP guidance in a “draft sample resolution requires that the political subdivision insert the 2017 Point in Time Count for the jurisdiction and explicitly state that the City ‘finds that the number of homeless is significant, and these persons are without the ability to obtain shelter.’ Given these straightforward statements, it would be difficult for the City to ‘un-declare’ the shelter crisis without making any progress with regard to the finding. The City will be hard-pressed to draft a resolution justifying un-declaring the shelter.”

The majority of the council when the issue first came up a month ago was concerned if an emergency was declared that it not only would be difficult to un-declare but it could possibly open the door for state mandates leading to Sacramento dictating how Manteca addresses the homeless issue.

A local coalition with the Manteca Gospel Rescue Mission that currently operates a limited resource center at 602 E. Yosemite Avenue kitty corner from the Manteca Bulletin is proposing to move to a new site that has been reviewed by the city Community Development Department.

Proposed new site for

resource center would

include 3 housing units

The site includes space for the addition of a cement pad to place a mobile clinic for the Community Medical Centers to provide medical services for the homeless. There would be an additional pad for a portable shower unit operated by Inner City Action with additional support services and staffing collaboration with Love INC and Hope Ministries. There would also be three housing units that could provide the foundation for supportive housing.

The organizations believe they will be asking for $1.4 million but the exact amount has yet to be determined. The deadline for applying is just over six weeks away.

In a letter to the council Randy Pinnelli who serves as the Director of Health Care for the Homeless Services for Community Medical Centers based in Stockton, notes the organization has provided such care to the homeless on a regular basis since 2001.

The goal is to provide more intense and targeted services out of a permanent location in Manteca is a bid to make more headway on homeless issues

“With the HEAP funding Community Medical Centers will leverage more than $1 million in additional resources and services during the first year and an estimated $500,000 in sustained funding and services thereafter,” Pinnelli wrote.

Pinnelli, who has resided in Manteca since 1961, notes the HEAP funding would allow the city to see an infusion of money to address the core issue of homelessness without a current investment of general fund dollars. He added that as a more robust resource center starts having positive impact, he is hopeful the city will make general fund commitments beyond the current policing efforts to make further inroads into homeless needs.

Apartment manager makes pitch for 

city to approve a 

homeless shelter

The council also has received a letter from Vista Verde Apartments manager Victoria Mesa to declare a shelter crisis so a shelter could be develop to “rehabilitate those in need.”

“One idea would be to create a labor shelter where the homeless can work to help care for the city,” Mesa wrote.

Mesa said she is making the pitch for a homeless shelter after noticing “a drastic increase in homeless activity over the last two years. With this increase, our rental community (located near Northgate Drive ion North Manteca) has experienced an increase in criminal activity such as trespassing, loitering vehicle break-ins, and stolen property.”

The significant jump in incidents that Mesa stressed is “hard to say with 100 percent certainty” whether it is all tied into the homeless prompted the apartment complex owners to hire a security guard.

She is also working with other apartment managers in the area to form a Neighborhood Watch group.

Mesa noted the growing homeless population seems to be engaging in substance abuse that often requires committing crimes such as petty theft and burglary to support it.

“As a mother, I worry about the activity I see in our parks and along the bike path near Neil Hafley School,” Mesa wrote.

She also stressed the need to provide health care and sanitary conditions for the homeless to prevent the potential spread of infectious diseases as has happened in other communities with a homeless problem.

Pinnelli in his letter made several other points.

The core issue of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing.

Until investments are made in affordable housing, he expects the number of homeless in Manteca will increase as more people are displaced by the rising cost of housing.

No jurisdiction in the United States has resolved homelessness through policing.

The 2017 Point in Time count of unsheltered homeless in Manteca identified 88 individuals.

Twenty percent of those identified as homeless in Manteca had a regular monthly income.

Currently agencies working with the homeless estimate Manteca’s unsheltered homeless population at about 100.

The City Council meets Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email