Stockton looks for ways to decrease homelessness

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In the city of Stockton, a major issue the community faces is the rise of homelessness.
Travel along the downtown freeways and the eye will be drawn to tents, trash and a community of people living off the streets. “Tent city” is what hundreds of Stockton’s homeless call home.

Those leading our community are creating solutions to provide an opportunity to get the homeless back into mainstream life and to keep the streets clean.

At the Feb. 6 Stockton City Council meeting, John Elvia with the California Department of Transportation, CalTrans, presented a plan.

“Here are four things that we get calls on: there is litter, illegal dumping, homeless encampments and vegetation management,” he said to the council and present citizens.

With the rise of homelessness and minimal job opportunities, the streets are becoming a home to those who are unable to provide for themselves, yet it’s hazardous to the remaining community members who drive around the polluted area.

A possible solution discussed during a city council meeting is known as Clean Sweep program.

“What we have found is that Bakersfield, District 6, started a program and they started that program a little bit ago; it started about four years ago and it was a partnership with the homeless shelter. Caltrans, the city of Bakersfield and the homeless shelter, they all came together and they worked on an agreement to put homeless people to work and it was a great idea and it started about four years ago and started with one crew,” said Elvia.

If the city of Stockton were to adopt this plan, the homeless would be paid minimum wage and supplied with transportation and work equipment.

“It would be beneficial if it does happen,” said Manuel Arvallo, a current homeless man. “OK, if there is a job there that would be great. More guys would be working and people could pull them- selves out of here. That is what messes us up a lot is that there is not a lot of jobs out here in Stockton.”

Elvia further mentioned during the meeting that this program has been such a success for the homeless in Bakersfield that it has put few families into homes and off the streets.

Upward mobility is something that most want yet struggle with when hitting rock bottom and are down in the dumps.

“It is each community’s responsibility to care for all of its members,” said Edward Figueroa, Chief Executive Officer, at the St. Mary’s Dining Room, which serves the homeless in the community.