Norman J. Moore is a Manteca resident, one of 200 plus that are homeless and living on the streets, in fields, in drainage ditches, or whatever spot they can find.
Moore is 73 years old and making do on a small Social Security check. He represents just one aspect of Manteca’s multi-faceted homeless community.
He’s dutifully been served a number of eviction notices for illegal encampments over the years by the Manteca Police Department.
The latest was on Nov. 23 for camping in an illegal campsite in an open lot north of Kaiser Manteca Hospital. As irony would have it, the lot in question is just over a stone’s throw away from the former law firm that served as Manteca’s contracted city attorney for the better part of 40 years and represented the city in court on misdemeanor charges centered on illegal camping including instances involving Moore.
As an aside, fining Moore accomplishes nothing as he can’t pay the $1,250 fine. Jail time doesn’t solve the problem as he would end up back living on the street. If it goes all the way to court, it costs taxpayers a minimum of $2,000 each time between police, booking, public defender, district attorney, and court costs.
Moore at one point was trying to file papers to run for City Council. He also triggered a set of charges that he threatened to use elephant guns on the Manteca City Council that might have been hyperbole but under law meets the criteria to definitely be considered a serious threat. That said Moore was never jailed on a no bail warrant which underscores the rather low assessment the justice system made of his threats.
It should be noted Moore is a candidate for the most literate homeless individual. A prolific letter writer, sometimes his tantalizing choice of words that are always used correctly in letters that he pens would send virtually everyone but William F. Buckley in search of a dictionary.
Moore said he has been living in the encampment for close to three years. The eviction also included Riley Vinson, his campmate of two years.
Vinson has been homeless since 2011.
When you see him on the street most of the time you’d have a hard time believing Vinson was homeless. He dresses clean and neat and often is seen bicycling wearing an orange and yellow vest while collecting recyclables. At one point due to his solid reputation, a property manager had him live in houses that had fallen in foreclosure to make sure they weren’t broken into and vandalized.
In an interview a few years back, the biggest challenge Vinson had was once he found a job his back taxes — that includes ever incurring interest — and child support owed caught up with him wiping out his paycheck. He was making $340 a month working in a Manteca thrift shop at one point that when coupled with general assistance allowed him to secure a room in a single occupancy hotel in downtown.
But then he was let go after seven months when he said he woke up late and was terminated.
The eviction required them to move from the lot behind Kaiser within three days right before Thanksgiving.
Last week, Moore and Vinson had promised to leave farm property by Friday where they ended up camping on after being evicted from the lot north of Kaiser.
But his effort to do so was thwarted by Moore’s bid to rent a 10- by 10-foot storage locker for the bulk of his stuff. That way he could leave his worldly belongings in one spot and resort to vagabond sleeping when it is legal to do so at a long list of public places in Manteca between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. in compliance with 9th District Court edicts that the Supreme Court declined to review.
Moore has rented storage units before. The cost is $185 per month with first and last required to move in. It was do-able financially. The deal killer was his lack of a California ID card given his wallet had been stolen a week prior. On the same Tuesday his wallet was stolen he went to his bank and had his bank card replaced to access his monthly Social Security check of just over $800.
He’s been trying to deal with the DMV every day but has gotten little headway thanks to the added problems the pandemic has created.
At any rate, Moore says there is another location where he believes the owner will allow him to stay on part of several acres.
For the record, Moore has no desire to leave Manteca. Even if he did, where would he go?
Before arriving here to rent a room in a home from a friend he had owned his own pizza parlor in the Midwest before the recession hit. He worked various handyman jobs in the Bay Area. He admits to making some bad judgment calls in his past.
He ended up homeless when the house his friend was renting was sold.
There aren’t too many places you can rent in Manteca on $800 a month income and still be able to eat let alone cover other living expenses.
County homeless outreach workers have been in contact with both. Obviously at age 73 finding Moore a job is a tall order. They are trying to find him housing but every option has a long, long waiting list.
A navigation center as a one-stop place where county and community groups can work to get the homeless off the streets and put those on a path that are of employable age to being able to support themselves is the best shot Manteca has at whittling down homeless numbers or at least try to put a cap on them growing.
The Manteca City Council has expressed the belief a homeless navigation center done right could also work to avoid people from becoming homeless by concentrating access to available services in one location.
No one is proclaiming either Moore or Vinson are a choir boy.
But they are far from being the caricature of homeless that many create.
The dilemma Manteca finds itself is without a “permanent” navigation up and running they can’t even begin to address the Moores or Vinsons let alone the hardcore problematic homeless to a degree that it will make much of a visible difference or prevent the situation from deteriorating even further.
Manteca and every other city under the jurisdiction of the 9th District cannot enforce quality of life laws that the homeless have no choice but to violate to simply live unless they have available drop-in beds.
In Manteca’s case, based on the last point-in-time homeless count in 2019, that’s 218 beds.
Once the beds are in place and are available if the homeless decline to access them, they are subject to full enforcement efforts.
The city’s goal to wed a homeless navigation center with such a shelter is a bid to help find solutions to reduce the ranks of the homeless at the same time.
The City Council, when they meet tonight via a Zoom meeting, will again take up the subject of where to locate a homeless center in Manteca.
How your voice
can be heard
Tonight’s meeting that starts at 7 p.m. can be viewed over the city’s website via livestreaming or on Comcast Channel 97.
There are four ways you can comment on an item.
*The first is eComment where you call up the agenda on the city’s website. New users will need to follow instructions to make an account. The comments are made by going down the agenda on the website and clicking on the eComment icon. Only one comment is allowed per agenda items of up to 500 words. Any eComment can be at any time up to the item being heard by the council.
*Emailing a comment to email@example.com up until two hours before the meeting. Comments 250 words and under will be read into the record while those over 250 words will be made a part of the official record but not publically read.
*Mail comments to the City Clerk’s office at 1001 W. Center St, Ste. B, Manteca, CA, 95337 that is received up to two hours before the meeting start. The same email word rules apply.
*Hand delivered comments to the city clerk’s door drop slot no later than two hours prior to the meeting. The same email world rules apply.
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