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Increase of 148% over 2017 level of 88 homeless
Homeless manteca.jpg
Bulletin file photo Caltrans workers cleaning out homeless encampment hot spots in Manteca along Highway 99 and the 120 Bypass.

Manteca’s official homeless numbers have soared by 148 percent since January of 2017.

The point in time count of homeless in Manteca in January of this year was 218. That compares to 88 counted in January 2017.

The count in January pegged Ripon’s official homeless count at 7 and Lathrop at 14. Stockton had 921, Tracy 155, Lodi 139, Escalon 4, and the unincorporated areas of the county 100.

The overall homeless count in San Joaquin County in January was at 2,629 compared to 1,552 two years prior for a 170 percent jump.

Organizers of the point in time count conducted every two years in San Joaquin County believe the more robust numbers reflect a more accurate count reflected by the fact they had a significant increase in manpower to conduct the census. Altogether 401 volunteers from 91 separate organizations counted 1,558 unsheltered individuals living  in San Joaquin County’s seven cities and unincorporated areas.

The higher homeless number for the county overall — 2,269 — compared to just the unsheltered at 1,558 incudes those residing in emergency shelters throughout the county including HOPE Ministries three facilities — a family shelter, mother and children shelter, and transitional housing — in Manteca. The point in time count for the cities is strictly unsheltered homeless and does not include those in emergency shelters.

That means if the roughly 80 people — mostly children — that are in a HOPE shelter at any given time were on the streets, Manteca’s homeless number would swell to 300. The HOPE Shelters also house from time-to-time families from Ripon, Lathrop, and other nearby communities that find themselves homeless.

Manteca Police Chief Jodie Estarziau believes the community’s homeless count is likely more accurate than other cities in the county as the department’s two officers dedicated to addressing homeless issues mapped out areas where homeless were camping or sleeping in doorways and bushes for several days prior to the actual count.

The numbers gathered have practical applications for government agencies that provide mental health care and such for the homeless as the data can be used to secure federal funds.

The data will likely be open to interpretation as to whether the homeless situation is getting worse, whether Manteca is advertently attracting homeless with its efforts to address the homeless problem, and whether a homeless problem in a community is serious.

The numbers in Ripon and Lathrop, for example, are a fraction of what they are in Manteca.

That said in 2011 when Manteca had a population of 69,246 there were 23 homeless. The city’s homeless count has increased nine fold in eight years going from being under the radar to highly visible.

Speaking to several people on Wednesday around Ripon’s downtown area they noted there are three or so familiar homeless faces they’ve seen on the streets over the years but homeless encampments per se aren’t really visible. 

That was the same general feeling in Manteca in 2011.

When the homeless started gathering and encamping in large numbers in central Manteca almost three years ago, the city stepped up its efforts on enforcement of quality of life laws that applied to everyone while working to convince homeless individuals to accept help in getting off the street. That effort centers around two full-time officers addressing homeless issues while working with non-profits and county services.

Proportionally based on population in relation to the homeless Ripon has a slightly higher homeless ratio today than Manteca did in 2011.

Those who work with the homeless believe the number attained in January represents an undercount. Organizers don’t dispute that contention noting given the geographic area covered it would be next to impossible to obtain a precise count.

The Manteca Gospel Rescue Mission, HOPE Family Shelter and other outreach agencies that work with the homeless in Manteca compiled data taken from interviews from Oct. 1, 2017 through Oct. 16, 2018 based on unduplicated homeless they assisted showed 620 people received services during a 12-month period. If you take out the 240 homeless that HOPE Family Shelters serve in a typical year that leaves 380 homeless in Manteca during the course of a year as opposed to the point in time count of 218. Not all homeless that end up on the street stay there for years at a time. That is reflected in the data the organizations secured. 

 Based on interviews with the 620 people that received services from HOPE Family Shelters and the Manteca Gospel Rescue Mission in the 12-month period ending on Oct. 16, 2018, the following picture of the homeless in Manteca is painted:

Almost a third of them were youth with 71 under 5 years of age, 94 from age 5 to 12, and 25 from age 13 to 17. Another 24 were aged 18 to 24.

More than half were age 25 to 54 with a breakdown of 115 age 25 to 24, 115 age 35 to 44, and 100 age 45 to 54.

59 were age 55 to 61 and 17 were 62 years of age or older.

51% or 314 were male and 49% or 306 were female. No one answered with other gender classification alternatives such as gender non-conforming, trans female or trans male.

78% or 484 were white. The rest of the breakdown was multiple races 11% or 67, Black or African American 6% or 35, American Indian or Native American 3% or 21, Native Hawaiian or Pacific islander 5, Asians, 3, and those that refused to answer or gave no answer was 5.

31% or 135 were disabled.

28 % or 90 had a chronic health condition.

None reported having HIV/AIDS.

25% or 158 reported having some type of mental health problems.

41% or 256 reported they did not have a substance abuse problem, 27% or 169 declined to give an answer, 16% or 100 abuse both drugs and alcohol, 11% or 69 abused drugs, and 4% or 25 abused alcohol.

73% or 319 were not chronic homeless while 27% or 117 were chronic homeless.

During the past three years 101 were homeless four or more times, 10 were homeless three times, 27 were homeless two times, and 244 were homeless once.

At the time of their interview 241 had been homeless 365 days or more and 158 less than 365 days.

The number of months homeless during the past three years were 241 for more than a year, 10 for 12 months, 5 for 11 months, 6 for 10 months, 3 for 9 months, 8 for 8 months, 7 for 7 months, 13 for six months, 10 for five months, 5 for four months, 13 for three months, 18 for two months, and 48 for one month.

5% or 20 were veterans.

Prior to staying at a shelter or being assisted 284 were living in a place not meant for habitation, 43 were in an emergency shelter including living in a motel paid for with a voucher, 19 were staying in a friend’s room/apartment/or house, 32 were staying in a relative’s room/apartment/or house, and the others were split between more than a dozen other arrangements running from a long-term care facility to jail.

Of those prior living arrangements 185 were for a year or longer, 81 for 90 days or more but less than a year, 63 for 30 to 90 days, 52 for a week to a month, 26 for two to six nights, and 14 for one night or less.

Among the adults 162 had no income, 51 had an annual income between $1,000 and $10,000, 43 between $10,000 and $20,000, 12 between $20,000 and $30,000, 3 between $30,000 and $40,000, and 3 between $40,000 and $50,000. Note that income reflects what a head of household parent is making who may be responsible for a number of children.

86% or 532 have valid Social Security numbers.  

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email