It has been 1½ years since I wrote a letter to the community of Tracy, expressing my concern about the homeless situation in Tracy and the need for people to get involved and find a solution. The response was gratifying, with many of us coming together and forming the Coalition of Tracy Citizens to Assist the Homeless.
With the community’s help, from individuals and organizations, the Coalition has accomplished much. We've helped more than 200 people find a place to live. We have a hot food and grocery network that gives the hungry one to three meals per day, every day of the week. We've developed a network of communication between the different churches and organizations, public and private, so that our relief efforts are coordinated, loopholes are closed and redundancy reduced.
With all that we have accomplished, I naively thought by now we'd have the problem of a shelter virtually licked. However, the foreclosures and continuing recession have made it impossible at this point to find enough housing for those with marginal incomes. In any given week, I have five to15 new people without shelter or who will be imminently without shelter contact me for help.
McHenry House Family Shelter does a great job finding shelter for those in need, but unfortunately they must turn away many people every month. With a few exceptions, the homeless shelters in Stockton are overcrowded and inadequate. It has come to the point that Tracy needs to act to greatly reduce the number of its homeless.
It is obvious to almost all of us who work with the homeless and poor that we need to have a couple of facilities right here in Tracy. These would provide temporary, transitional or permanent housing, as well as counseling and other tools to put people's lives back on track.
I know there are many of you who realize that citizens of Tracy, working together, can solve this problem. We just need to meet to discuss and brainstorm solutions. To that end, I have decided to call a meeting for everyone who is interested at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, at the City Hall council chambers. Let's show others that we are one of the first cities to solve our homeless problem without large government funding or interference.
It's going to take lots of good hearts and lots of smart thinking to get through this problem, but I know Tracy's is up to it.