The City of Manteca set a standard when it agreed to assign a police officer to a full-time position assisting homeless people in the community get access to the services they need.
The city has since created a second position to help address what has reached crisis proportions in some parts of California.
And now, other neighboring agencies are following suit – adopting similar processes as they come up with new ways of dealing with an ever-growing population of homeless individuals in the face of rising home and rent prices that prevent many people from acquiring stable housing.
On Wednesday, Lathrop Police Services coordinated with San Joaquin County Social Workers, city representatives, and service organizations to visit places in and around town where homeless individuals have set up camps to offer assistance.
While one person was arrested on an outstanding felony warrant, many appointments were made for individuals to come in for medical services as well as Social Security and California state identification cards – a pivotal and necessary step towards finding gainful employment or even securing a permanent domicile.
As the cost of housing has forced many people in the Northern San Joaquin Valley that did not own their homes to downsize or find alternative living arrangements, the boom has also prevented low-income individuals from getting their foot in the door with rental and apartment units that are now setting record prices for the area.
And the problem isn’t confined just to San Joaquin County, and neighboring areas are using similar tactics to help tackle the problem.
The City of Modesto, for example, made the decision in 2017 to employ not only a police officer to handle homeless issues in the community, but partnered them with a firefighter-paramedic to administer medical care as necessary to the city’s burgeoning population. Just last week the city installed a tent city underneath the 9th Street Bridge in Downtown Modesto for homeless individuals to shelter in, and the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors gave authorization for the temporary solution to proceed as planned.
Because of Lathrop’s position along the bank of the San Joaquin River, numerous homeless encampments have sprung up over the years – including one near the new development at River Islands. In 2016, Lathrop-Manteca Fire District crews responded to a grass fire near the Mossdale boat launch that ultimately spread to a nearby train trestle, damaging the tracks and ties that support them. Fire investigators believed at the time that a homeless encampment may have been to blame for the fire.
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