Manteca non-profits could obtain a share of $7.1 million in state funds earmarked for San Joaquin County to deal with the city’s ongoing homeless problem if the City Council is willing to declare an “emergency shelter crisis” exists.
If the council makes such a declaration Manteca Gospel Rescue Mission could then apply for a grant working collaboratively with Community Medical Centers and Inner City Actions to provide medical care and shower services respectively.
Should the council declare such a crisis allowing the rescue mission to apply for a grant and they succeeded in obtained funding, it could go a long way to addresses two homeless issues — access to proper medical care and keeping clean.
The impacts such a move could have includes:
Addressing health issues the homeless have.
The ability to get ahead of any potential community health issues that may arise from unhealthy and unsanitary conditions the homeless are in such as Hepatitis A outbreaks that has surfaced among the homeless in other California cities such as San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Cruz.
Reducing the pressure on the Doctors Hospital of Manteca emergency room that typically sees homeless for medical issues on any given day.
Allow homeless to address personal hygiene issues by showering.
Also being able to shower would help the homeless be presentable at job interviews.
Under state law, the declaration of an emergency shelter crisis means that Manteca has a significant number of residents that are not housed and that a threat to health and safety exists.
The designation allows cities, if they chose, to place homeless shelters on any land they control and adopt minimum standards for public health and safety to allow the rapid development of shelters. At the same time the city could opt to house homeless in “designated public facilities.”
Some homeless advocates — including those in the City of Sacramento — contend the wording of the law allowing a jurisdiction to declare an emergency housing crisis would mean homeless could legally occupy city property. That could mean the city would be powerless to stop homeless people from camping on any city property such as parks, the Manteca Transit Center, the Civic Center, and municipal parking lots — whether they are leased or owned.
Whether declaring an emergency housing emergency actually sets the stage for a wholesale disregard of city anti-camping rules until the crisis is declared over has not been made clear by the state agency overseeing the distribution of the $700 million being made available by the state on a one-time basis or any legal ruling.
Manteca currently has crafted municipal ordinances addressing camping of anyone regardless of housing status.
All city parks are closed from dusk to dawn unless specific hours have been established by council resolution. Manteca’s municipal code specifically bans camping at the Manteca Transit Center and Moffat Community Center/Manteca Veterans Center.
Camping is allowed either by a permit issued by the police chief for private property when certain criteria are met or on any unsecured public property (as well as the exceptions such as parks) except when the person is sitting or lying on public property between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. of the following day. That means using areas such as public sidewalks for that purpose between those hours is OK as long as there is adequate passage that complies with ADA laws..
The ordinance is modeled of those in other California cities where the municipal code has passed muster with legal challenges. It essentially acknowledged the need of homeless to sleep — hence the reference to sitting on lying on public property for a seven-hour period between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. It also allows enforcement of quality of life laws impacting the entire community.
While the Manteca Gospel Rescue Mission that has been operating in the community for three years or any other non-profit could seek funding for emergency housing vouches or emergency shelter construction, they have made it clear their purpose for the one time money is to improve “the continuum of care” already in place assisting the homeless.
The rescue mission is seeking to get the council to consider making an emergency declaration.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com