Stockton city leaders held a news conference Thursday to discuss potential resolutions to save the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless from shutting down and leaving nearly 250 unhoused people without shelter.

Mayor Kevin Lincoln was made aware on July 16 that the nonprofit shelter intended to close their doors by Aug. 15, but said a thorough reason for closing was not disclosed.

During the news conference, City Manager Harry Black said there were two pathways forward to help the shelter and the people it currently serves.

First would be that the shelter vacate the property by Aug. 16, which would make room for a new nonprofit to be able to provide services, or for them to work with the city to provide an orderly transition.

The other path would be that if the property was not vacated, city staff would work with other nonprofit partners to temporarily house any unsheltered people until the city is able to recover the shelter.

City officials said the worst-case scenario if they can’t obtain access to the shelter property is to use city staff to possibly convert the Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium building into an interim temporary homeless shelter.

“The city is well equipped to handle this crisis,” Black said. “We recently hired a homeless strategic initiatives manager, Melanie Estarziau, who will coordinate our local nonprofits to help meet the need of our unsheltered homeless individuals.”

As a precautionary measure to protect those at the shelter accessing services, Black had declared a local emergency Monday.

He said the declaration would give him authority to enter into contracts and draw funding from various accounts as a response to what is necessary in order to address the shelter emergency.

“This is a fluid situation, it will likely continue to be fluid for at least the next couple of weeks or so,” Black said. “It’s fluid because things have happened, actions have been taken.”

According to Black, on July 24 city and county staff had met with the St. Mary’s Dining Room to talk about the status of its ongoing negotiations with the shelter as well as their capacity and readiness to assume shelter operations in addition to the Salvation Army.

St. Mary’s Dining Room is a nonprofit that has been aiding poverty and homelessness since 1955 with wraparound support services such as food, showers, and care for health issues.

Allegedly the dining room presented a proposed management structure and campus-wide homeless services budget that could have been activated by Aug. 15.

The Stockton Shelter for the Homeless and St. Mary’s Dining Room were both sent an agreement at the end of July that would transfer the current lease of the shelter site to the dining hall to prevent a gap in services.

“St. Mary’s Dining Room returned a signed document on Tuesday, Aug. 1. And the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless had not yet signed,” Black said. “Later in the day on Aug. 2, the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless finally sent assignment of the sublease agreement back to the city, however they redlined the document, including language that was unacceptable.”

As a result, the shelter was sent a letter to vacate the property.

“It is my understanding that they are also going to be pursuing dissolution of the nonprofit,” Black said.

“The outpouring of support from the nonprofit community in Stockton has been tremendous,” Black said.

Another organization that the city has in mind to take over the lease of the shelter is United Way of San Joaquin County. 

A Stockton City Council emergency meeting will be held Thursday at 4:45 p.m. to ratify the emergency declaration.

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