Manteca may hire a homeless program manager for $172,035 — salary and benefits included — in a bid to focus efforts and put two police officers back on the streets instead of being exclusively committed to homeless issues.
As counterintuitive as it may sound the move — at least initially and as well as with some long term expenditures — is designed to save the city money.
*Such a position can be funded in part, or entirely, by existing state and federal programs aimed at addressing homeless issues.
*Based on 2019 salaries and benefits the two community resource officers assigned to the city’s homeless efforts cost taxpayers a combined $382,866 between salary, overtime, benefits, and pension costs. Between the two positions the city paid $63,196 in overtime during 2019. The homeless program manager position would be exempt from overtime.
*The city lacks extensive details on the homeless in Manteca to mold solutions to effectively address homeless issues as they move forward with a navigation center as well what is needed to apply for a wealth of state and federal grants specifically designated to combat homelessness.
The proposal will be presented to the Manteca City Council Tuesday when they meet remotely during a Zoom meeting at 7 p.m. due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The council meeting is being livestreamed over the city’s website and televised on Comcast Cable Channel 97.
City Manager Miranda Lutzow noted the move will save the city money as well as free two trained officers that are paid much higher and are eligible for overtime to do tasks that are essentially social work and administrative style tasks such as coordinating with community groups to work to get homeless off the street as well as to work to prevent people from becoming homeless.
Lutzow stressed when situations warrant the need for police officer assistance that they would be called in by the homeless program manager.
The program manager would not only collect critical data, work with community groups, and apply for grants but also work with the homeless on the street to build relationships.
Lutzow expects the two community resource officers that are already trained as Police Officer I positions and paid accordingly would be scheduled in such a manner that there would be one available seven days a week to address homeless issues that deal more with law violations. She estimated that could possible require about 25 percent of their time.
Such a move would augment Manteca’s patrol by two officers.
Homeless are considered
public safety concern
The city manager stressed that addressing homeless concerns was a top City Council priority adding that it has been identified as a public safety and as a health concern.
Lutzow noted Manteca needs to develop specific information on the city’s homeless population such as whether they have ties to the community or are transient and develop data regarding ages, issues, gender and such so how the city develops its homeless solutions aren’t being done in a vacuum.
“We are going to be spending (significant) money and need to know we are doing it right,” Lutzow said.
It may also be critical to have a homeless program manager on city staff as Manteca’s moves toward establishing a navigation center. That is a concern for two reasons. There is a strong possibility a qualified non-profit agency or even a private concern may not step up and operate a navigation center once it is in place. At the same time there needs to be daily city oversight on the homeless situation even if a contractor is secured to run a navigation center to make sure city objectives are being met and any issues related to the center and addressed in a timely manner to minimized impacts on the community.
The city’s goal is threefold as they move toward a homeless program manager. It is to assist homeless in getting off the street, preventing people from becoming homeless, and to address homeless quality of life crimes that range from sleeping in public places and setting up illegal encampments to public urination.
The 9th District Court of Appeals — that Manteca as well as other jurisdictions in California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, and Alaska — has made it clear cities cannot legally enforce such quality of life laws against the homeless unless there are available beds.
That doesn’t mean the homeless have to occupy the beds. What it means if there is space available and the homeless refuse to use the beds and instead say they want to sleep on the streets police would be able to enforce the law. Without beds for the homeless, cities have to allow the homeless to sleep in public places that are open to everyone as long as it doesn’t block a sidewalk and pose a safety issues such as sleeping on an actual paved street. Cities are allowed to have reasonable time restrictions.
Manteca met the time restrictions requirement by allowing the use of such areas for sleeping such as on the expansive sidewalk in front of the Manteca Library on Center Street from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily.
If the city had a drop-in shelter that could accommodate the homeless population based on a legally recognized census such as a point in time count Manteca last conducted in January 2019, they do not have to allow the homeless to sleep on the streets.
That last point in time count put the City of Manteca’s homeless number at 218.
Lutzow added that a homeless program manager would help assure the city was not simply “spinning its wheels” as the years go by in trying to get homeless issues under control.
Public comments for
Tuesday’s council meeting
Public comments for the Manteca council meeting taking place on Tuesday must be submitted by no later than 4 p.m. that day. Public comment will be limited to 250 words and every effort will be made by staff to read these comments into the record. Comments that exceed 250 words will not be read into the record and will be made a part of the official record on file with the City Clerk. Comments received after the 4 p.m. deadline will not be read into the record and will be made a part of the official record on file with the City Clerk if received prior to the end of the meeting.
Public Comment may be submitted by firstname.lastname@example.org or they can be hand delivered to the Office of the City Clerk, 1001 W. Center St., Ste. B, Manteca.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com