Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
On Tuesday, the City Council voted to add two community resource officers to the police force in order to deal with the homeless problem. It is a wise first step toward dealing with this issue. Our citizens have the right not be harassed by panhandlers at ATMs or when they are out shopping. Making sure that the law is enforced when it comes to such activity is essential. However, while it was a good decision, it is just the first step.
Solving the homeless problem is not going to be done in one, two, or possibly even five years. This is a problem that is years in the making and will take years to be fully solved. In order to do this, we must make a distinction between those that are homeless because they have run into hard times or are down on their luck for no fault of their own, and those that take advantage of our community’s generosity. Panhandlers should be punished and our government must make clear to them that our community will not tolerate their behavior.
As for those who are homeless or struggling to get by, which sadly also includes many of our brave veterans returning from the battlefield, our city’s efforts must go beyond hiring two more community officers. There must be a community- and city-wide effort to help those who are less fortunate. Not a government solution, but our city’s non-profits, churches, and charities coming together to help those who cannot help themselves. Our city government cannot and should not be managing this effort from the top down, but can be a crucial part of forging this partnership.
Some have suggested a homeless resource center is the solution. I recognize the merits of this idea, but also believe that it would be a mistake to build a permanent structure in Manteca that would encourage the homeless population from the surrounding areas to travel here. A more feasible solution might be a mobile resource center that travels to meet the homeless, one that can reach those who cannot travel. Again, this must be a county-wide endeavor and Manteca must work with the surrounding communities to get this done.
I agree with those who say solving the homeless issue is the biggest one facing Manteca. This must be the top priority for the next council. If we continue to work together, we can absolutely solve this.