Stockton requests SJV grant for homeless shelter

A new low-barrier homeless shelter could eventually be coming to south Stockton.

A new low-barrier homeless shelter could eventually be coming to south Stockton.

Stockton City Council voted unanimously at its meetings last week to pass a resolution requesting a grant from San Joaquin County to fund a new 125-bed shelter with wraparound services to be run by the Salvation Army.

The one-time nearly $8.2 million capital grant would include covering a 10-year lease up front for a property located on Airport Way with a large-paved area, warehouse and several smaller out-buildings, according Council documents. The funds would also pay for construction and renovations at the property, as well as additional costs such as permitting, insurance and landscaping. 

The resolution also included authorizing the appropriation of previously allocated $3.6 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) monies and an additional support gap from the county of nearly $1.4 million to fund operational costs for the first two years.

An aerial view looking northwest toward two ships docked at the Port of Stockton, West Complex part of the old Rough & Ready Island Naval Base along the San Joaquin River in Stockton, Calif., on March 27, 2008. (Photo courtesy Paul Hames/California Department of Water Resources) City of Stockton Calif., logo (Logo courtesy City of Stockton)

“I believe that we can do this. We have the capacity, we have the ability, we have the track record, we have the history, we have a passion behind our people,” Maj. John Brackenbury, Salvation Army Del Oro division commander, told the Council.

Four organizations — Salvation Army, Gospel Center Rescue Mission, Uplift Foundation and Fresh Start Transitional Housing and Reentry Program —  submitted proposals in response to the city’s request in March for project concepts and funding availability for low-barrier shelter beds. 

The Salvation Army was chosen because its proposal was not only shovel ready, but also most closely aligned with what the city was looking for in the project, Economic Development Director Carrie Wright told the Council during a presentation at its meeting last week.

“They demonstrated their commitment to low barrier practices. And they were very flexible in how we implement the program. They would adjust to city requirements, city needs, and accessibility was an important factor,” Wright said. “They kind of hit all the markers.” 

Stockton has about 800-900 residents sleeping outdoors, Wright said. The city has 554 shelter beds, with an occupancy rate of 61%, and another 180 beds are under construction.

The Stockton Shelter for the Homeless is set to break ground next Friday for the groundbreaking of its new 180-bed shelter navigation center, the first of its kind within the city limits of Stockton.

Adding up all those shelter beds — currently, under construction and planned — Stockton could potentially have enough space to bring the city’s homeless who are living unsheltered off of the streets, Wright said. 

The city is working on increasing occupancy rates in the beds the city already has, Wright says.  

“Survey results indicate that the reasons they don’t go into shelters are safety concerns. They’re (shelters) are not welcoming in their approach,” Wright said. “They can’t bring pets, they can’t bring partners, possessions — things that we know.”

This possible new low-barrier shelter would allow those living unsheltered to bring with them their partners, possessions and pets, Brackenbury said, while also being provided with some type of privacy.

Shelter residents can keep their beds for a period of up to 90 days, without having to check in and out each day, Brackenbury said. 

“They come in, these are their beds,” Brackenbury said. “They have a space. They have a locker. Their pets can be sleeping with them. Their partners can be with them in this area.” 

Areas will also be segregated to support the many types of people who need the shelter’s services, Brackenburry said. This includes designating areas for single men, single women, family units, those suffering from substance abuse, veterans and people from the LGBTQ community. 

“This truly is a program that is going to help meet the needs of the people within this community,” Brackenburry said. “We are committed to doing this.”

Councilmembers expressed measured optimism for the potential shelter program. 

Vice Mayor Christina Fugazi praised the Salvation Army’s similar work in other cities and said she was “very much in support” of the proposal. But she also cautioned there’s a lot of work to be done.

“I have seen what the Salvation Army has done in Modesto. And I’m happy that it is coming here, potentially to Stockton,” Fugazi said. “But I think it’s very important that we pull back those rose-colored glasses and thinking that people, if we build it, they will come.”

Pending county approval, Wright said the shelter program could be up and running within a year of groundbreaking.

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