When Mike Kelly started working to help get homeless people off Manteca’s streets, he started a logbook.
In that book is the name and information of everybody that he comes in contact with, and in the event that he’s able to find them housing or get them into a substance abuse treatment program, he makes a little mark next to the entry. So far he’s up 63 of those little marks.
But his efforts for the last seven months have worked out so well that it might actually cut into his ability to keep racking up numbers.
According to Kelly, the coordinated efforts to streamline the delivery of essential services to the homeless population has gotten so good, that there’s a good chance that people are getting placed that he doesn’t even know about.
“That’s kind of what the entire object of doing this was, and it appears to be working,” Kelly said. “It isn’t just me anymore that’s taking some of these steps, and the more that we narrow down the focus to target the people who need it, the more people we’re going to help.”
When he took the position of community resource officer, Kelly immediately picked up the work that had been started by former police chief Nick Obligacion to get all of those who were providing services to the community on the same page.
Through a series of public meetings, Kelly narrowed down the focus into a series of key categories, and paired those who were willing to help with the process with issues that they could tackle – whether it was transporting those who needed to be taken to local treatment facilities, or helping to provide services like showers to the local homeless population.
The idea behind the organizing, Kelly said, was to make sure that efforts weren’t being duplicated, and that there were single points of contact. Too often, he said, he would see people bring bags of clothes down to Library Park where they would be rifled through and left – leaving an unsightly mess in the wake of an otherwise well-intended gesture. The same thing, he said, would also happen with food.
By getting everybody on the same page those issues are eliminated.
And with Northern California standing on edge as another storm is preparing to batter the water logged region, the fallout has started to appear on Manteca streets.
Kelly led a group throughout the community on the monthly outreach day to the homeless and came across a family that was evacuated from the Oroville area where word that a failure of the dam’s auxiliary spillway was imminent. They ultimately ran out of gas in Manteca, he said, so through the volunteer base the group was able to fill their gas tank and give them a hot meal, thus enabling them to get to a temporary shelter in Chico that had since opened up.
Plans for the showers, which were scheduled to be held on Monday, Feb. 20, were postponed until this upcoming Monday, Feb. 27, due to the holiday. Held in church parking lots around the community, Kelly said that the showers have been a “hit week-in and week-out” and that every week more people show up to take advantage of the free service than did the previous week.
“I’d say that things are really starting to come together and take hold,” Kelly said. “It’s good to be able so many people getting involved to address an issue like this in our community.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.