Working to Support Lodi’s Homeless Community

On September 15, the City Council accepted a report from the Lodi Committee on Homelessness (LCH). Now the Lodi Community Foundation and it’s project partners are taking action.

The LCH was founded based on the growing number of homeless residents in San Joaquin County during the past few years. As of January 2015, there were 1,116 people in emergency shelters or transitional housing in San Joaquin County and the number of unsheltered homeless residents was 541 people. Unsheltered homeless residents are those who live on the street, in cars or at makeshift shelters such as homeless campsites, according to a 2011 report prepared by the San Joaquin County Community Development Department.

Out of the unsheltered homeless reported, 91 were living in Lodi —87adults and four children — and the vast majority of these individuals reported that they struggled with addiction, mental illness or both.

Following the release of this data, the Lodi Community Foundation joined forces with the Salvation Army, the Lodi Police Department, and the City of Lodi, as well as businesspeople, the faith-based community, a few homeless people, and a few formerly homeless individuals to work together in an effort to help these homeless individuals.

This group formed the LCH and has created two sub-committees —onefocusing on short-term goals (projects that will take less than two years) and one geared toward long-term goals (projects taking more than two years). Currently the main long-term goal is to create a shelter that will provide the homeless community with a one-stop shop for services such as food, medical care, counseling and more as opposed to having to travel all over the county — which is typically a challenge for a homeless individual — to have various needs met.

John Ledbetter, chairman of the Lodi Community Foundation, said the committee already has some success stories from short-term outreach. A weekly homeless fair has been established at the Salvation Army to allow individuals to shower and get clothes. Once a month this fair also hosts representatives from county agencies to connect people with services that they need.

The report that the LCH presented to City Council is a living document, Ledbetter noted, that will grow and change as the LCH discusses more in-depth what they would like to accomplish as well as what the homeless community is interested in accepting. Lodi’s response to the homeless issue has also gotten the ear of the county and a meeting between the LCH and San Joaquin County officials could help provide support more quickly to those in need in Lodi and throughout the region.

The committee will continue updating the Lodi City Council on a quarterly basis with their short-term successes and the progress of their long-term goals. The next report will be shared at a meeting held in January 2016.