STOCKTON (CBS13) — Dozens of people attended a meeting in Stockton Thursday to come up with solutions to homelessness.
A group of people who say trash and other debris from homeless encampments along the Calaveras River in Stockton is creating dangers to health and public safety were in attendance.
Roger Kelly lives along the Calaveras River in Stockton.
“This is a nice little pocket neighborhood and we want to keep it that way,” Kelly said.
He and his neighbors are frustrated with people they believe live in homeless encampments throwing trash and other debris into the water.
“It’s bags tied real tight right on the surface that are human waste,” said Frank Rauzi. “It’s propane canisters, and broken up toys and things that float because they make their own boats out of them.”
A group of neighbors plans to clean up the river on Saturday. They want the county to do more to address the homeless problem which is why they attended a meeting today to discuss possible solutions.
“Our state, city and county have created a population that has no boundaries and no consequences for their behavior and action,” said Tracie Glaves of the San Joaquin Delta Neighborhood Watch Group.
The meeting was hosted by the San Joaquin County Continuum of Care. It drew members of various groups including city and county government, homeless shelters, resource organizations and even farmers.
“What we need is a big tent shelter,” said San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti.
Patti has been very vocal about the homeless. He wants to shift the focus on housing to a concentrated effort to create shelter space.
“San Joaquin shelter already houses 400 people an evening so why don’t we expand that to 1,000? Let’s utilize resources and make it a more robust level of engagement versus just a bed and just food,” said Patti.
He had proposed building a shelter at the old Holt school site, but after investigating issues with water and infrastructure – determined it’s no longer a viable location.
“I commend him for stepping up to the plate and taking a swing. It wasn’t a home run, but he swung,” said Glaves.
Patti is now looking at the parking lot of St. Mary’s Dining Hall as a possible location because he said many of the resources are already there.
“What we want is a single center fully encompassing of the services we can bring in to those most in need,” Patti said.
He’s asking leaders to come up with actionable solutions within 100 days. Solutions folks like Roger Kelly and his neighbors hope will get people off the streets and into a safer location for everyone.
“This water is not only for recreational use. This is our drinking water,” Glaves.
“And at this point, we need to do something very quickly,” added Kelly.