An agreement has been reached to keep the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless open, staving off a possibly catastrophic shutdown that was originally scheduled for next week.
St. Mary’s Dining Room will officially take over the shelter’s sublease and operations at the beginning of next month, according to Stockton city officials.
The city announced last week that the shelter, an independent nonprofit entity, intended to close its doors Aug. 15 and declared a local emergency due to the subsequent possibility that the hundreds of people the shelter serves would be displaced.
Both St. Mary’s and the shelter have agreed to terms and conditions that allow for a “smooth and orderly transition,” which the city says will protect those served by the shelter and sustain vital emergency shelter services for the community at large.
Stockton City Manager Harry Black said in the news release that the city is excited to have been able to facilitate the agreement.
“From the onset of this ordeal, we have been pursuing multiple strategies and assignment of the sublease has been one of the strategies. Resolving this matter has required a collective effort,” black said. “Staff, across City government, have been working hard on this and in tandem with our external partners. We will continue to work toward a smooth transition, ensuring that the most vulnerable of our community have a roof over their heads and access to all necessary services.”
Just a few days ago it seemed that a deal to transfer the shelter’s sublease of the land where its facilities are located on South Harrison Street, which is owned by Caltrans and rented by the city for the shelter, and its operations over to another provider was in danger.
The shelter encompasses several buildings and other structures on the city-owned land, including a new navigation center that is nearly completed.
City staff and shelter leadership indicated to Stocktonia earlier in the week that both sides were working cooperatively toward preventing the closure. However, narratives from the city and shelter started to diverge, with both organizations’ public rhetoric becoming more adversarial toward the end of the week.
This culminated in the shelter’s attorney accusing the city of “financially strangling” the shelter to force a closure and transfer of its assets to the city’s preferred provider — claiming that provider is St. Mary’s Dining Hall — while the city announced it gave the shelter a notice to vacate by Aug. 16 and threatened legal action if it did not comply.
But the tone is once again highlighting a collaborative effort among everyone involved.
City officials said Thursday they appreciated the efforts from both the shelter and St. Mary’s on coming together to keep the shelter open and running.
“The collaborative efforts of the City of Stockton, Stockton Shelter for the Homeless, and St. Mary’s Dining Room in reaching an agreement reflects the compassion and commitment of our entire community,” Mayor Kevin Lincoln said in the city’s statement. “It illustrates that, when we all come together toward a common mission, we are united in our dedication to the safety, protection, and support of our unhoused community members.”
City Manager Black echoed those sentiments.
“We’d like to thank the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless and St. Mary’s Dining Room for working through the process that has made this agreement possible,” Black said in the city’s statement. “In addition, we are extremely grateful to our external partners, including San Joaquin County, Salvation Army, United Way, and all of those who assisted by answering the call, ready to serve, developing contingency plans for any potential outcome.”
This is a developing story.