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Once on the streets, now cleaning up Manteca
inner city
Inner City Action volunteers work clearing up areas along Moffat Boulevard that wasn’t part of the Caltrans effort to clear out illegal homeless encampments.

The odds are by this time next month Gov. Gavin Newsom will be deciding whether to allow the sale of the former Qualex building purchased by the now dissolved Manteca Redevelopment Agency to be sold for $1 to Inner City Action for use as a homeless resource center instead of being auctioned to the highest bidder as the state previously mandated.

Assemblyman Heath Flora’s bill — AB 1732 — that the Ripon Republican crafted working with the City of Manteca — is scheduled to go before the State Senate Appropriations Committee in the coming days and be taken up by the full Senate before the Aug. 30 legislative deadline. If all goes well, it will be on the governor’s desk in less than two weeks.

Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu on Wednesday when commenting on the need for Caltrans to secure areas around freeways and overpasses where the homeless are imperiling the public’s safety as well as that of their own after an 8-foot deep cave that the homeless had created in the embankment of the Cottage Avenue overcrossing of Highway 99 was discovered, stressed the need to divert the homeless into effective programs.

Cantu said programs such as the one that Inner City Action is already operating and will expand upon if they are able to secure the Qualex building at 555 Industrial Park Drive, is the best identified way so far to address the growing homeless problem. The mayor said the city is restricted by court and laws on what measures they can take regarding homeless. At the same time he believes it would be a mistake to enable the homeless with a drop-in shelter such as operated in Stockton just southeast of the Interstate 5 and Highway 4 interchange.

Inner City Action will not operate a drop-in shelter where the homeless can sleep. Instead they will offer a resource center that — in order to access stepped up services — the homeless must be willing to get off the street and into their program. Inner City Action uses a converted motel and other facilities in Stockton to house those in their program.

Besides working to address addiction and other items, Inner City Action strives to not just build a work ethic by putting those they help to work doing everything from staffing concessions at major events to cleaning up the aftermath of wildfires such as in Paradise, they also — when the people they help are ready — have employers that will provide them with jobs.

An example of what Inner City Action does — and what they plan to expand upon if they secure the Qualex building — took place on Thursday.

Manteca Police Community Resource Officer Ryan Smith and volunteers from Inner City Action spent several hours cleaning up the area around Moffat Boulevard and the surrounding railroad tracks near the 120 overpass. The area is adjacent to the state right-of-way that Caltrans crews cleared of illegal encampments last week. Some, but not all, of the trash that was retrieved was likely left in the area by the homeless.

 Two large trailers worth of garbage was picked up and disposed of by the Inner City Action volunteers the removal of the items resulted in a noticeable improvement to the area. Many of the volunteers with Inner City Action had been homeless themselves in the past and were helped off of the streets by Inner City Action.

Inner City Action over the past several years has conducted a number of other similar clean-up efforts in Manteca.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email