Daniel is one of Inner City Action’s many success stories.
A serious drug addiction led to him living on Manteca’s streets for years.
Then he came into contact with Inner City Action.
The non-profit, faith-based organization that eschews the concept of a drop-in homeless shelter as being ineffective at making any headway toward solving homelessness built a relationship with Daniel.
It took a time to gain his trust. Once Inner City did and it was clear he was ready to get off the street, they opened their doors of a motel converted to living space in Stockton to work on his transformation. They did it be addressing what ends up being an albatross around the necks of those on the streets after a time — laziness and being lethargic — by instilling a strong work ethic and developing goals aimed at getting his life back.
Today Daniel is on his own earning $6,000 a month as a truck driver.
It is 23 years of devoting their lives to reaching out to various Daniels on the streets that has driven Frank and Kim Saldana to bring the Inner City Action success formula to their hometown in a bid to turn the tide of homeless issues.
The couple with deep roots in Manteca shared the story of Inner City Action with Manteca Rotary members during their noon meeting Thursday at Ernie’s Rendezvous Room.
Inner City also wants
to work to avoid
people from ending
up as homeless
Inner City Action is the faith-based organization Manteca’s elected leaders are working with to try and secure the former 57,000-square-foot Qualex building at 555 Industrial Park Drive as a permanent location for a homeless resource center not simply to serve as a base to work to get homeless off the streets in Manteca but also to work with others at risk of ending up on the streets so that they don’t become part of Manteca’s homeless problem.
Inner City Action for the past 30 months has been the pivotal partner with Manteca Police efforts that has helped get more than 250 homeless of the streets. The vast majority have not returned to the streets. Some have been reunited with families often states away. Many have gotten their lives back or are in the process of building new lives all on the back of the bridge Inner City’s program provides. Inner City doesn’t simply stress the value of work but provides work and then the connections with businesses throughout Northern California that are sold on how effective those that have been brought along by Inner City are in terms of being responsible and hard workers.
Frank Saldana emphasized that it is a coordinated effort of a lot of volunteers, church groups, non-profits and government agencies that are responsible for success stories to date in Manteca.
The importance of having Inner City “on the ground” in Manteca is underscored by the fact they will drop what they are doing and respond when a Manteca Police community resource officer has a homeless individual that they have been working with who has finally decided they are ready to get off the street. Typically within an hour an Inner City van has picked them up and has taken them to housing in Stockton to start their journey to becoming productive citizens.
It’s because of what Inner City does and doesn’t do — which is not operate a drop-in shelter or a traditional soup kitchen — that the City Council has supported efforts to help the non-profit establish a resource center.
Councilman Gary Singh has seen firsthand how effective Inner City is as his family owns commercial property where the homeless routinely create issues
Inner City Action for the most part is self-funded as the former homeless work developing skills at various endeavors such as running concessions at the Coachella Music Festival in Southern California and Professional Golf Association tournaments throughout the country such as in Rochester, NY.
Some that Inner City
Action have helped
have been able to
buy their own homes
The travel and new experiences, according to the Saldanas helps re-enforce their desire to get jobs so they can work toward goals and earn things beyond simply being able to support themselves. Over the years several people that Inner City have helped have gone beyond simply being able to afford to pay rent to keep a roof over their head and support themselves and their families but they have also been able to buy homes.
Many assume that because Inner City has pitched a big tent behind the fence and heavy landscaping at 555 Industrial Park Drive that they are creating the proverbial homeless tent city with countless homeless hanging around.
Frank Saldana notes that it is not the case.
Drive by and you won’t see people milling about, bicycles strewn about or homeless belongings piled everywhere. Everything is kept orderly and out of sight.
No one is allowed to stay overnight.
Saldana said the homeless are respectful of the rule not to set up encampments near the resource center. Instead most of them travel to the resource center by vans from points where they gather or encamp.
The first time the tent was in place for a 25-day period ending Feb. 17 Inner City was able to get 23 homeless off the streets including three kids that were slipping with their mother in a car.
In the first five days after the tent went back up April 12 and additional three people have been taken off the streets and into the Inner City program.
“We have another two I can tell are ready to do the same tomorrow,” Saldana said.
In the five-day period after they reopened, they have served 91 breakfasts, 72 lunches, and 75 dinners, There have been 10 given haircuts and 36 who have showered. Overall 166 individuals have come through the gates with 29 of those being unduplicated.
It is those repeat homeless that Inner City is working on to build the trust that is essential to get them to the point they are ready to leave the streets.
What services the Inner
City Action resource
center is offering
The resource center operates Sunday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is nightly prayer from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Saldana noted while Inner City is faith based nothing is forced on anyone.
Daily services offered at the resource center includes breakfast from 9 to 10 a.m., lunch from noon to 1 p.m., and dinner from 5 to 6 p.m. There is an open coffee bar daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. mobile showers 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., clothes closets from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, clean restrooms, snack bar from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, haircuts from 10 a.m.to 2 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday as well as Saturday, phone charging stations, and access to storage from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The belongings of the homeless are stored out of sight at the Qualex location. Since it is secure a number of homeless have stopped lugging their items around town only taking out what they need to spend the night on the streets where they sleep instead of trying to find places to stash it around Manteca.
Saldana related how one business owner had a homeless person on their premises with an extremely large pile of items. The merchant convinced the individual to call Inner City at 1-800-446-7205. Inner City was there in minutes and loaded up the items and took them to storage while they started the task of investing time with the individual to build needed trust.
Inner City volunteers have been distributing cards delineating their services and contact information to businesses that have ongoing issues with the homeless. The cards are given to the homeless.
They also offer other programs at the resource center such as recovery programs.
Saldana noted Inner City Action is currently working with a group of homeless that hang out at Library Park to get them to the point they are ready to get off the streets.
“It doesn’t happen in one meeting,” Saldana said. “Most are very guarded.”
He noted often after two weeks of being clean and sober that those in the program they treat like family believe they are ready to work. Saldana said that isn’t the case as they need to work on a variety of personnel skills.
The companies they work with are eager to employ those in the Inner City programs. Typically there is a two week training program specific to the job they are placed in. If the person doesn’t work out the companies simply try someone else.
Inner City provides the transportation to get them to and from job sites. Then when they are ready to go out on their own and rent their own place Inner City delves into a wealth of donated items to furnish housing and provide other necessities to allow them to firmly establish their selves.
Inner City has no plans to collapse their Stockton efforts into Manteca. They will keep resource operations in place as well as housing. That is in addition to an apartment complex they are using in Lodi.
“I want to move here but I don’t want to bring Stockton here,’ Saldana said.
Manteca, he noted, has a different situation and a strong family value system.
“Our goal is to service Manteca first,” Saldana said. “This is our home.”
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com