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Project now won’t require any general fund money to construct; will move forward faster
navigation center
A rendering of the proposed Manteca homeless navigation center proposed for the eastern side of an 8 acre parcel the city is buying in the Manteca Industrial Park.

Manteca has landed a $16 million state grant to build a homeless navigation center.

The funds — included in the $308 billion budget signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom — represent the biggest grant ever secured by the City of Manteca from either the state or federal government.

It is the result of Councilman Gary Singh and Interim City Manager Toni Lundgren working closely with State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman who shepherded the request for the funds through the California Legislature and worked with the governor’s office to gain Newsom’s support.

The proposal also enjoyed the backing of Assemblyman Heath Flora.

Flora helped the city previously in an unsuccessful effort to get the state to donate the Qualex site for a homeless navigation center.

The city has amassed almost $20 million to advance the project.

That is after the $16 million is combined with:

*$2 million in state homeless pass through money earmarked by the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors to purchase the 8 acres bordering South Main Street for the homeless navigation center location.

*$750,000 in a federal grant secured by Congressman Josh Harder.

*Federal Community Development Block Grants that cities can use to address low-income needs.

The $16 million grant is a tectonic development in Manteca’s seven-year undertaking to find a way to reduce the homeless numbers on the street and work with them so they can again support themselves and secure shelter.

It helped significantly that Manteca investment the time and money into a homeless strategy plus had a site picked out and is in the process of securing. Without doing that, the grant — if obtained — would have been drastically smaller.

This means several things for Manteca.

*The city’s general fund — that supports day-to-day services such as police and fire protection, routine street maintenance, park upkeep and other functions — that already is being stretched thin won’t have to be tapped to build the facility.

*It has enough funds to put in place a “brick and mortar” facility for aspects of the navigation center that aren’t transitionary housing. That means the long-term expense to the city to maintain the facility will be less.

*The city will be able to fund every aspect needed to make it a “model navigation center” including the 7-foot sound wall promised to make the location secure and avoid illegal camping nearby.

*Manteca will be able to build a substantial facility that will allow it the space needed to make it work. That  is based on a $19.1 million, 299-bed shelter with 32,500 square feet that is “brick and mortar” and not Sprung Structures or pre-engineered modular structures.

*The city — given it has the money — is likely to move forward in a timely manner with the sale to the Manteca Unified School District of the surplus Qualex site at 555 Industrial Park Drive where the current emergency shelter tent is located.

Manteca Unified, if they secure the site in the coming months, will be able to avoid costly extensions of private sector warehouse storage space leases for food services.

By using the 55,000-square-foot complex for its centralized warehouses, the school district will be able to save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year that can be diverted back to the classrooms.

The Qualex building also has room for district growth.

The city has been reluctant to sell the Qualex building without a place to move the temporary shelter to. Now that they are in the process of buying the 8 acres that border South Main Street and have the funds earmarked to build a facility, that is not an issue.

The city has indicated once infrastructure in place they plan to relocate the tent while a permanent facility is being built.

The landing of such a large grant for homeless is a rarity for cities under 100,000 residents.

It is the direct result of Lundgren’s efforts who is in her first gig as a city manager even though it is only interim. She has been on the job for a little over six months.

Eggman’s assistance was critical to the city succeeding for what backers expect to be a model navigation center to address homeless issues.

Such large grants normally go to larger cities, primarily on California’s coast.

The city’s effort was able to be timed with the fact the state is flush with excess revenue. Given that is based on capital gains tax receipts and such, another opportunity may not surface for a grant of that size for a number of years.


Navigation center

is not a drop-in shelter

The $16 million will fund a facility that is not a drop-in shelter such as St. Mary’s in Stockton where those that can’t secure beds typically set up tents and such on sidewalks near the facility.

Instead, the homeless that commit to working to get off the streets will be transported to the site.

The facility will not accept walk-in homeless per se.

The city’s entrance will be from the east side of the property off of Carnegie Court and away from commercial and residential development.

A homeless shelter per se is not what Manteca needs.

City leaders reached that conclusion after weighing court decisions and what has worked — and hasn’t worked — in other California cities.

Manteca is moving forward with a long-range strategy to address homeless issues that is based on six key conclusions:

*Focusing on law enforcement alone is insufficient.

*Reducing the number of unsheltered homeless will take a multi-pronged approach.

*The needs and the rights of the homeless and the Manteca community overall must be balanced.

*A homeless navigation as opposed to simply a homeless shelter is needed.

*Regional partnerships need to be formed given homeless move around.

*Agreements with Caltrans and the county are needed to make sure all agencies are on the same page.

*The full use of “Laura’s Law” also known as assisted outpatient treatment is needed within the county for sustained and intensive court-ordered outpatient treatment for individuals with mental illness who may be at risk of grave disability, deterioration in life skills and functioning, self-harm, and/or violence towards others.

The assisted out-patient treatment is not an alternate to voluntary treatment. It is a way to get services to those homeless who refuse voluntary treatment working in conjunction with the court system.

Such a program implemented in other counties with local jurisdictions has led to collaboration on getting assistance to those individuals with a mandated focus on the homeless.


What the navigation

center will feature

The navigation center will include temporary shelter, intensive case management, housing navigation, employment services, meals, medical care, showers, and laundry facilities.

The study for a navigation center looked at three scenarios.

The first was envisioned to include a 50-bed men’s dorm, a 30-bed women’s dorm, a 20-bed family dorm, a 10-bed couples’ dorm, and 16 units of transitional housing. It will have a common room that will be used the dining and watching TV, full kitchen and food service, two offices for the operator the city contracts with, three offices for shared outside services, a classroom/multipurpose room/activity room, as well as two sets of restrooms and showers.

The second is a 126-bed facility with 19,300 square feet is pegged at $9 million if Sprung Structures are used, $12 million if pre-engineered modular buildings are used, and $14.3 million if permanent wood-framed buildings are used.

The third is a 299-bed facility with 32,500 square feet is estimated to cost $11.7 million if Sprung Structures are used, $16.4 million if pre-engineered modular buildings are used, and $19.9 million if permanent wood-framed buildings are used.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email