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San Joaquin County officials and volunteers gathered at City Hall in Manteca recently to begin the first of four Point-in-Time Counts of homeless people in the county.

The biennial counts, mandated in every state, track the number of unsheltered and sheltered homeless people because those numbers determine how much each county will receive in state and federal funding to address homelessness.

San Joaquin County’s 2019 Point-in-Time Count showed that there were 1,071 sheltered and 1,558 unsheltered homeless people in the county. Data indicated that about 14 percent of those people were in Manteca.

During the count, which took place Jan. 25, volunteers ventured out to encampments, homeless shelters, unincorporated areas of the city and other locations to count the number of homeless people.

“All these volunteers are amazing. They’re literally raising hundreds of millions of dollars,” District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said. “It’s also an opportunity for them to see the people that we’re working with … they could be your family member, they could be your neighbor. We’re all one bad paycheck away from having economic hardship.”

“(T)hey could be your family member, they could be your neighbor. We’re all one bad paycheck away from having economic hardship.”

Tori Verber Salazar, San Joaquin County District Attorney

Brianna Perez, an 18-year-old sheltered homeless woman, was found living at a mobile resource center in Manteca.

Perez said for most of her life she has lived in foster care homes, but she became homeless in October. She said she slept in her car for a week before coming to the shelter.

“My school counselor told me about this place, and I came here,” Perez said. “They were really nice to me. I never felt so safe in a shelter before.”

Manteca Mayor Benjamin Cantu said the city has plans to help those facing housing insecurity once the count is completed.

“We are in the process of developing plans and funding for a Navigation Center on South Main Street,” Cantu said.

He said the center will provide services that homeless people are lacking such as access to food, a place to sleep and transitional as well as affordable housing.

According to Cantu, there is not an expected date for the center’s opening.