Wes Bowers

News-Sentinel Staff Writer

The City of Lodi’s proposed access center for the homeless got a shot in the arm Tuesday with help from the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.

Lodi, along with the cities of Manteca and Tracy asked county leaders for funding to help solve their respective homeless crises, and supervisors unanimously approved their requests.

In their decision, supervisors granted Lodi a total of $2.8 million to help develop a access center that will provide the city’s homeless with resources to services such as employment, housing and mental health.

Of that total, $2 million will be used for the development of the center, for which city staff has eyed three different locations. The remaining $800,000 would be used to create a temporary emergency shelter with 50 beds.

City councilman Doug Kuehne said the temporary shelter could be up and running within four months. Ultimately, those occupying the 50 beds would be moved to the access center once a final location is chosen and the city begins developing and upgrading the site, he said.

“This will not be temporary,” Kuehne told supervisors. “This will continue on and it will be permanent. This is huge for us. It’s been well thought through, we’ve talked about it. We’ve seen some of the hurdles, and we’re glad to be here at this point to ask for your assistance.”

Kuehne said the city is estimating a $7.1 million price tag for the project, of which $5.3 million will be funded by the American Rescue Plan Act.

The three locations being considered for the access center include a 23,000-square-foot vacant building at 710 N. Sacramento St., a city-owned piece of surplus right-of-way directly north of Salas Park, and a vacant piece of city-owned property on Thurman Street in the industrial area of Lodi.

John Della Monica, the city’s community development director, said the $800,000 will be used to provide a tent with the 50 beds, along with restroom facilities and laundry services. The temporary shelter would be located on the property chosen for the access center until the actual structure is complete, he said.

Supervisor Robert Rickman, who represents Tracy, said he brought the three cities to the board to request funding because he knew the hardships leaders were facing providing services to the homeless that were not readily available in their areas.

“It’s almost like an island in south county and in Lodi, because the services they need for the homeless are all in the City of Stockton,” Rickman said. “So if anyone needs help, they have to go to Stockton. A lot of them don’t want to go to Stockton, and you can’t make people do it. So you have to bring these services to the cities. We just don’t have them.”

Supervisor Kathy Miller, who represents northwest Stockton, supported the ideas of having emergency shelters and access centers in all three cities, and thanked their representatives for appearing before the board.

In a discussion preceding the cities’ requests, Miller and board vice chair Chuck Winn voted against allocating $6.5 million for a low-barrier homeless shelter in Stockton, causing the proposal to fail.

In voting against the Stockton facility, Miller said Lodi, Manteca and Tracy would benefit more from the projects each jurisdiction is developing on their own.

“I think it’s wonderful you guys all came to do this,” she said. “I thank you for taking seriously the parameters we’re looking for today and identifying other funding components you need to make these successful.”

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