The San Joaquin County Continuum of Care announced this week plans for disbursing $7 million in grant funds to help alleviate the homelessness crisis in cities around the county. Lodi is expected to receive more than $1 million.

The funding comes from the Homeless Emergency Aid Program, known as HEAP. The state provided a $500 million one-time-use grant for cities throughout California as they mobilize to tackle homelessness.

Funding was determined based on a point-in-time census of the state’s homeless residents conducted in 2017, which identified 567 unsheltered homeless individuals in San Joaquin County.

“We received about $1.2 million, and the city is looking to construct about four to six homes,” said John Ledbetter, who serves on Lodi’s Committee on Homelessness.

The homes will be 450 to 500 square feet and will be reserved for residents who have demonstrated progress towards their rehabilitation. The city hopes that by transitioning people into homes more space will be freed up at shelters such as the Salvation Army.

“It is in the best interest of the people and city to move people who have been rehabilitated and are looking to continue on their path,” Ledbetter said.

The occupants will be not be living in the homes for free — they will be required to pay rent. However, it will be a subsidized portion of their income, which will allow them to save their wages and continue to improve their lives and build a future.

Although the program will not directly take people off of the street, it offers an avenue for people working toward getting off of the street permanently.

“By moving people from shelters into housing, we create a cycle that gets people off of the streets and into shelters, which creates a long-term pathway,” said Adam Cheshire, the county’s programs administrator for Homeless Initiatives.

The grant funds to begin development on this project will not be available until the end of February or the beginning of March, Cheshire said.

San Joaquin County will have another point-in-time count on Jan. 23, 2019, he added.

“We are doing a lot of sourcing and outreach to make sure we get an accurate count of unsheltered homeless individuals,” Cheshire said.

The city is looking into areas to develop the project and begin construction, Ledbetter said, but as more time passes, more definite details will become available.

“We want to create a success story with this program,” he said.

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