Drive Yosemite Avenue through downtown Manteca after midnight.
There are homeless people.
On any given night you can count a dozen or so without any effort.
Turn down side streets or travel Center Street and the count easily doubles.
Unlike in many larger cities, rarely do they block sidewalks or sleep directly on sidewalks.
Early Friday morning after the last downtown businesses in the form of bars had closed, the homeless were the only ones on the streets.
They occupied recessed areas in front of places such as California Styling, Tipton’s, the VFW Hall, and The Veranda events center to help protect them from the elements.
Often times they will use blankets or other items to block off the street for privacy.
But there is another reason of late why there are more homeless spending the night in such recessed areas and doing so in multipole numbers.
There have been homeless individuals attacked.
Fifteen homeless so far, according to an email sent by Shaun Anderson, an individual who says he is homeless as well.
Don’t be surprised that the homeless have access to email or smartphones. Many have sources of income whether they are Social Security checks, assistance checks, or even paychecks too paltry to allow them to secure housing in Manteca.
Finding a power source to charge devices isn’t as tough as you might think.
Anderson, in his email, doesn’t make it clear who is attacking the homeless Usually, though, homeless are the victim of crimes by other homeless. That is why they often congregate together and look out for each other.
In his email Anderson notes, “The homeless have been occupying business openings since there has been 15 people homeless that have been beaten with a sock and padlock by another person hiding in the dark waiting for a person to walk by alone and attack them. As a homeless person myself we do not report this as we know nothing will happen to prevent further attacks by the police who just don't care.”
“And since it being Halloween the police have been doing warrant checks on everybody and picking up homeless people for the tiniest infractions. You'd actually be surprised of how aware the homeless are of the youth of Manteca and they will not tolerate sales of any substances to the children and who police themselves extremely well.”
There is safety in numbers. There are those that will gather outside the fenced off library courtyard on Center Street where the sidewalk is a dozen or so feet deep.
Sometimes they can be found in the in the wee hours clustered around the Tidewater benches near the unfinished kiosk where the bike path crosses Yosemite Avenue.
In recent weeks since the Manteca emergency shelter has been unable to allow homeless to sleep overnight due to insurance coverage reasons.
The number of cars that double as a place to sleep that are parked together has increased. One such areas is in the municipal parking lot next to the Powers Avenue fire station.
The city hopes to have donated potables rehabbed and ready to shelter the homeless on an emergency basis again in the secured parking lot at 555 Industrial Park Drive before winter sets in. His Way Recovery has already obtained the correct insurance needed to protect the city.
“We are not here to bother the people as many of the homeless just want a simple place to be and to be left alone as they keep bulldozing our camps and throwing away our items,” Anderson adds in his email. “It is Manteca's police and city council who are causing the homeless to act out and damage property without regards.”
“Also, with the overnight shelter segregating the homeless is not something that should be done. Men and women should be able to cohabitate as long as they follow rules we should not be cut off from our friends or loved ones due to natural human nature that we tend not even to share in.”
“Remember Manteca a little respect goes a long way with the homeless. We will look out for your things, keep your businesses safe, and clean up your sidewalks. (We) just for a safe spot to sleep at night and be gone in the morning. We're not animals to be caged in and treated as trash.”
“And for the people that do give to us we are thankful for everything you do. Don't be so quick to judge us we are the same as everybody else but we want to live a different lifestyle.”