The number of locations being considered for Homeless Emergency Aid Program grant funds has been narrowed down from 19 to two.

Lodi City Manager Steve Schwabauer gave a HEAP project funding presentation at a Committee on Homelessness meeting Thursday afternoon, and said a city-owned piece of property at the southwest corner of Lodi Avenue and the Union Pacific Railroad tacks was one of the properties being considered for a housing complex of tiny homes.

The second location being considered for the project is a vacant piece of property at South Washington Street and Lodi Avenue, he said.

The Lodi City Council on Aug. 7 will consider approving a contract with Michael Baker International to conduct environmental analyses of both sites, Schwabauer said, to determine which location would be more appropriate for the project.

If the contract is approved next week, Schwabauer said it should take about six weeks to complete the environmental analysis.

“We’ll take a look at what the analysis finds and then choose one of these two sites,” he said.

Leah Snelter, owner of The Fabulous You Boutique in Downtown Lodi, asked if the committee and city were committed to the tiny home project, and why a shelter option was not considered.

Schwabauer said there was a lot of debate among the committee about which option to choose, and in the end, it was decided a tiny home complex would not generate opposition.

However, he said a larger shelter option could be considered when HEAP funds become available again in the future.

“This is going to take time, energy and commitment to solve (the homeless) problem,” he said. “I’m proud of what has been accomplished, even though we’re on the first-step stage of a 10-mile journey.”

John Ledbetter, chairman of the committee, said he recently toured the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless and saw a lot of positives, including a Day Shelter program and Men’s Shelter program.

The only location in Lodi that serves the homeless in a similar fashion is the Salvation Army, which Ledbetter said the city is fortunate to have.

“(The Stockton shelter) is looking to expand their project, and Lodi doesn’t have anything close to that kind of site,” he said. “But that may be something we will have to consider some time in the future.”

The city received $1.25 million in HEAP funding from the San Joaquin Continuum of Care last December, and the tiny home complex has been considered by Lodi’s Committee on Homelessness for the last two years.

The complex will consist of five permanent supportive housing units for homeless individuals or families, as well as those at risk of becoming homeless, according to the staff report in next Wednesday’s City Council meeting agenda. Each unit will be about 450 square feet in size.

The project will help homeless move from emergency shelters, and off the streets into long-term, affordable housing where they can adapt to independent living, the staff report states.

Tenant referrals will be received from local organizations such as the Salvation Army, Lodi House and the Women’s Center, as well as from the Housing Authority of the County of San Joaquin.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be $1.87 million, with $400,000 used for property acquisition, and $1.25 million for site improvement and construction.

The contract that the council will consider on Wednesday will not exceed $41,100, according to staff.

The staff report states that HEAP funds must be spent by June 30, 2021, and half of those to be contractually obligated by Jan. 1, 2020.

Wednesday’s city council meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Carnegie Forum, 305 W. Pine St. The agenda can be viewed online at https://tinyurl.com/yy6sd5v5.

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