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Manteca council will decide whether to allow temporary warming center for city’s homeless

The homeless may have a dedicated — although temporary — place to seek shelter when the daily low forecast is expected to dip down to at least 40 degrees through March 31.

The warming center, however, could open whenever the forecast calls for a low of 52 degrees should the non-profit operating it request to do so and the city agrees.

The City Council when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St., will be asked to declare the existence of a health emergency in Manteca. if they agree to do with a four-fifths approval vote, Inner City Action will be allowed to establish a warming center in the parking lot of the former Qualex building at 555 Industrial Park Drive.

The ordinance drafted for the housing emergency for Manteca’s unsheltered homeless that was pegged at 218 during the January point-in-time count sets parameters for the emergency conditions that a warming center would be allowed to operate.

It allows a temporary warming center to operate on any day that the National Weather Service forecast calls for the low to be at least 40 degrees.

The ordinance also provides the option for the city to consider raising the activation temperature for the low temperature if requested by the provider. In this case that would be Inner City Action. However, the activation temperature can’t be higher than 52 degrees for the low. The 52 degrees number is cast in stone

If the ordinance were in place today based on the National Weather Service forecast for the next five days the warming center shelter would be open today and Friday when the lows are expected to dip to 38 degrees. Those are 20 days where the low is expected to be 40 degrees or below in the 30 day forecast. If the threshold is pushed to 52 degrees, the warming center would be allowed to operate for the next five days as the highest day in the short range forecast for the low is 50 degrees on Monday. Based on historic average low if the threshold were raised to 52 degrees for activation at some point in the future, the warming center helter would be open through March 31. 

The emergency ordinance would only be in effect from Dec. 4 through March 31.

“It’s a good temporary solution for now, but it’s not the solution,” Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu said.

The city does open the senior center as a warming center when weather conditions are expected to be particularly dangerous. That center however is restricted to use from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. There are no restrictions on hours of operations spelled out in the emergency ordinance that covers only temperature benchmarks when the temporary warming center can be activated.

While come might argue the senior center should suffice as an emergency warning center, there would likely be severe issues if organizations or individuals started transporting large numbers of Manteca’s homeless to the senior center when it is open overnight for that purpose.

The reality is based on where most homeless encamp or sleep in Manteca, the senior center location would not easily accessible plus if it were to be used it would change the patterns of the homeless movements in the city making them even more pronounced if they opted to go back and forth from where they have found semi-shelter from the elements to the senior center.

A warming center is a departure from what Inner City was doing last year at 555 Industrial Park and what they wanted to do with the former Qualex building of Gov. Newsom didn’t veto legislation that would have allowed it to be transferred to them for a $1 to establish a robust homeless  resource center. Inner City Action, working in conjunction with the Manteca Police Department and other agencies, has been credited with helping getting more than 220 homeless off city streets over the past three years.

The $568 temporary use permit fee would be paid from the city’s Economic Development account.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email