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Manteca trying to break cycle of homeless
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For much of the past 20 years there was a distinct pattern when it came to the city dealing with the homeless on Manteca’s streets.
There was minimal police attention paid until complaints started piling up — usually when their numbers grew around the start of certain events such as the farmers market at Library Park. There would be a heightened enforcement of city laws regarding camping, park curfew hours, and blocking sidewalks.
The visible numbers of homeless would thin and city efforts would be relaxed. Then six months to a year later the cycle would repeat itself.
It was a cycle that most other California cities follow as well although some illegally had police give the homeless rides to the edge of another town’s community limits.

Homeless started
becoming more
high profile
The futility of such a strategy became clear in the last five years when the ranks of the homeless became more visible along with panhandling, issues with public urination and such that including some exposing themselves to passing traffic on main thoroughfares, and piling belongings in parks. At the same time the vagrant part of the equation — those who aren’t homeless but are meth users and such that hang out in parks and with the homeless — seemed to grow as well.
Meanwhile development had effectively pushed homeless from perennial “hiding places” prompting them to encamp in more high profile places such as along the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 corridors as well as in front of stores and even banks in areas like the Food-4-Less shopping center.
In July of 2016, the Manteca City Council decided to take a more pro-active approach adhering to court decisions that made it clear being homeless is not a crime. The council approved the hiring of two community resource officers with the Manteca Police Department. The goal was two-fold. They wanted to actively work with homeless to make them aware of resources and to help connect them with agencies and such when they decided they were ready to do so. The other goal was to address illegal acts that the homeless committed. The second CRO will start work the first week of October.

Manteca efforts is getting
10 homeless individuals
off the streets every month
In the past 14 months, CRO Mike Kelly has helped get more than 140 homeless individuals into drug and alcohol abuse programs, reunited with family members or help them secure low-income housing or even employment. That doesn’t count interventions that have helped people from becoming homeless by referring them to agencies that can provide help they need.
Kelly has also worked with the homeless to get them to be “good neighbors” by cleaning up after themselves. Kelley also has been able to lessen the negative impacts on the community by getting them voluntarily to move to areas less populated by families and children during the day. The linchpin of that strategy is getting most homeless individuals to spend their days at Wilson Park behind the post office instead of staying in Library Park near playgrounds and the interactive water play feature.
While Wilson Park is highly visible to the community, it keeps homeless away from the playground and the library. Wilson Park also has never received substantial public use.
At the same time Kelly along with other officers have been addressing quality of life issues stemming from the breaking of municipal ordinances. As an example from May 1 to Aug. 20 alone in and around Library Park and Wilson Park in downtown police have issued 98 citations and served 22 warrants.
Other efforts that have taken place or underway include:
ua community meeting set for Thursday, Sept. 7, at 6 p.m. at the Manteca Transit Center, 220 Moffat Blvd., to discuss specific topics of concern for community members regarding the homeless.
uworking with Caltrans to clear homeless encampments within the state right-of-way along the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 corridors.
uhired private security to assist with late night municipal code violations when the CDRO is not available.
uoperated a heating and cooling center through fire department efforts that was open six times last winter and 11 times so far this summer.
uParks & Recreation personnel have worked diligently to keep Library Park clean and the park bathroom serviceable.
uplaced a fence to secure the Manteca Library courtyard.
ucreated the Manteca Homeless Outreach Team consisting of county agencies such as the Mental Health Department, faith-based organizations, the Hope Chest, non-profits dealing with the homeless, local shelters, and a number of volunteers from the community. The team coordinates weekly showers held at various churches each week. the homeless also receive haircuts, hygiene products, food, and resource information.
upolice patrols have been increased downtown.
uworking to bring the Law Assisted Enforcement Diversion program known as drug court to Manteca.
uhas hed summit meetings with those with resources to help the homeless as well as monthly meetings with core members of the group.
uconducts periodic visits of team members to encampments to reach out to those that are ready for assistance.
The Manteca City Council when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St., will discuss additional strategies to improve the homeless situation.