The City of Manteca for the better part of two years was not adequately protected when it came to potential lawsuits against the operators of the emergency homeless shelter in the parking lot at 555 Industrial Park Drive.
That’s because the organization the city contracted with — Inner City Action — had insurance coverage to operate a revival tent. It did not cover using the tent for overnight housing of the homeless.
The lack of proper insurance surfaced when Interim City Manager Toni Lundgren was seeking to retain the services of another non-profit to operate the shelter after Inner City Action gave notice and vacated the premises on Aug. 10.
City manager office staff discovered the lack of proper insurance when reviewing what had been required of Inner City in order to present criteria needed for a new contractor.
The original contract with Inner City Action was overseen by an administrative analyst that has since left the city’s employ. It was back when Miranda Lutzow was still city manager in 2019.
Lundgren became interim city manager in February of this year.
That was five months after Inner City Action’s second stint of running the shelter started in October 2021.
Between Dec. 10, 2020 and May 28, 2021, the Turlock Gospel Mission contracted to operate the shelter. It is not clear whether they had the proper insurance.
Prior to that, Inner City operated the shelter starting in December of 2019.
His Way Recovery is not providing overnight accommodations until it gets various paperwork in order to be a qualifying non-profit for such insurance coverage. Meanwhile, they are operating the shelter as an emergency resource center for the homeless.
Although the city never tried to cover up the fact that they discovered in August that Inner City Action failed to secure the proper insurance, the issue didn’t surface until an exchange of emails earlier this month between mayoral candidate Lei Ann Larson and Lundgren.
Larson’s involvement started after her All American BBQ meet and greet at Library Park on Sept. 10.
In talking with several homeless, she found they were not able to sleep at the tent since His Way took it over. His Way representatives confirmed to Larson that was the case due to insurance coverage issues.
And in order to secure a firm to underwrite the insurance, they need to be a non-profit organization that they are working to complete the paperwork on.
Larson’s Library Park event was two days into the 10-day heat wave that peaked with a high of 115 degrees on Sept. 13.
Larson used the fact the tent was closed to overnight sleeping to paint the city as “uncaring” when it came to the homeless.
Larson, who has aggressively sought a citywide vote to ban homeless navigation centers in Manteca, has used the lack of overnight sleeping arrangements for the homeless to question the commitment her opponents — incumbent Ben Cantu and councilman Gary Singh — have for the welfare of the homeless in Manteca.
In an email to Lundgren, Larson wrote “I also understand the City allowed Inner City to operate a homeless shelter with insurance for a Revival Tent not an overnight shelter. If that is true, the City was exposed to a significant risk if there was a fire or some other catastrophic event causing injury. That was reckless and irresponsible.”
Lundgren, while noting the insurance should have been in place during the time period Inner City was operating the tent as a homeless shelter, said the fire department made daily safety inspections of the premises.
Mayor Cantu noted once Lundgren discovered the omission in the contract negotiated by a previous city manager she informed the council and would not allow the shelter to operate for overnight accommodations until the correct insurance is in place.
“We’re not yet to the design stage on the navigation center, Cantu said Monday. “And it’s not a regional navigation and it is not going to be.”
Cantu added the rumors keep circulating that it is a regional center which is not the case.
Cantu added that even though the options presented to the council had one that went as high as 250 beds, he said there will be a substantially lower number of beds when all is said and done.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com