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Lathrop forming homeless response plan for community
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While the City of Lathrop might not have nearly as large of a homeless population as nearby cities do, the Lathrop City Council will consider creating a homeless response plan that will provide guiding principles in dealing with the unsheltered in the community.

The council, which meets on the second Monday of every month, will meet on Monday, May 10 to discus the matter.

According to the staff report that was prepared for the Lathrop City Council, only 14 unsheltered individuals were identified within Lathrop’s city limits during the last county-wide homeless count in 2018 – a number that is traditionally lower than the actual number of unsheltered because of the complexity in contacting individuals that would be included in that population.

The count was scheduled to be held again in 2020 but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and may be held later this year to provide a more realistic picture of the number of homeless in the community.

“While the number of homeless in Lathrop is substantially smaller compared to other neighboring communities, Lathrop is nonetheless affected by the compounding public health and safety concerns surrounding homeless such as blight, illegal encampments, panhandling, littering and loitering,” the staff report reads. “Cooperation between governments, and private and non-profit businesses is essential to identify long-lasting, regional solutions to alleviating the strain homelessness causes on our local communities.”

The guiding principles being proposed are:

*Collaboration – Fostering a sense of collaboration between public and private entities to “reduce barriers to housing” and offering “a continuum of coordinated services to the housing-vulnerable population, including emergency housing and community programs which aim to prevent homelessness before it occurs.”

*Accountability – Promoting transparency in all decisions made affecting the homeless and using an “evidence-based and data-driven” approach to addressing the issue.

*Communication – Valuing the voice of the homeless in the community and the advocates working to help them. This will require frequent communication among stakeholders to “build trust and ensure engagement in a meaningful and collaborative way.”

As Lathrop works to lay the foundation for a successful program to help eliminate homelessness and assist those that are currently unsheltered, neighboring Manteca continues to be the example that other communities are looking towards as an example for how to successfully implemented an intervention and assistance program.

Both the City of Lodi and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office reached out to Manteca Community Resource Officer Mike Kelly for tips on how he managed to effectively build relationships with the unsheltered community that have allowed for collaborative efforts between public and private entities to be successful.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 2