St. Mary’s Dining Room is set to receive nearly $11 million from the city of Stockton and San Joaquin County to help run the former Stockton Shelter for the Homeless, which transferred its operations over to the long-running nonprofit earlier this month.
The city and county approved millions of dollars in matching funds to fill the shelter’s projected annual funding gap of more than $3 million over the next three years.
Stockton declared a local emergency last month after the shelter informed city officials it would be closing its doors by mid August due to a lack of funding. The closure would have meant the displacement of hundreds of unhoused Stocktonians and loss of critical homeless services.
“Working with the county, we were able to avert a closure and avoid a gap in services for our unsheltered community members,” Stockton City Manager Harry Black said in a press release Wednesday. “At the same time, this is a unique opportunity to establish a single integrated site with turnkey services through an established service provider that is supported by the city, county, and the community.”
The county approved funds for the shelter’s budget shortfall at the end of last month, with Stockton City Council voting unanimously to do the same earlier this week. Councilmembers also approved an official contract between the city and St. Mary’s to operate the shelter’s campus for the next three years, as well as recognized the transfer of the shelter’s sublease of the land where its facilities are located.
Stockton Shelter for the Homeless had been in operation for 40 years before handing over operations to St. Mary’s Dining Room earlier this month. The shelter’s campus encompasses several buildings and other facilities, including a family shelter and new navigation center that is nearly completed.
St. Mary’s, which has provided meals and other support services to the homeless community in Stockton since 1955, sits adjacent to the shelter just south of downtown Stockton off of South Harrison Street. City officials immediately turned to the fellow nonprofit when news of the shelter’s imminent closure was announced.
An agreement was eventually reached with all parties following tension during negotiations that was on short-lived public display between city officials and the shelter in the beginning of August.
The combined annual operating budgets for St. Mary’s and the shelter total about $13.2 million, with a funding gap of about $3.58 million, according to a presentation given to Stockton City Council during its Tuesday meeting. The city and county will split the bill for the budgeting shortfall, though City Manager Black clarified that the money will be directly applied to the former shelter’s operating budget.
The now newly-combined campuses of the shelter and dining room offer wraparound services, including case management, housing placement, mental health support and medical crisis management.
Petra Linden, chief executive officer for St. Mary’s, told the Stockton City Council on Tuesday that there are about 900 people in the city who are living unhoused. By next year, when the shelter’s navigation center and St. Mary’s Pathways modular community projects are complete, the campus will boast about 820 beds for homeless Stockton residents.
“We’re really seeing this as an opportunity to address the larger issue around unsheltered homelessness and really want to make this an opportunity to do things in a different way, and take lessons learned going forward,” Linden said. “While homelessness is a larger issue that will take years and years to address, I do believe that we can end unsheltered homelessness … within the next few years.”
Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln thanked everyone who pitched in to keep the shelter open and that now it was time to make sure that all the work that’s being done is put to good use in getting people off the streets.
“If the city of Stockton is going to partner and invest and subsidize our shelter operations, then the residents of the city of Stockton should take shelter there,” Lincoln said. “Because that’s the compassionate thing that we’re trying to do as a city and in partnership with our organizations. This is all about improving the life for our unsheltered residents and improving the life for our city as a whole.”