Stockton city leaders said this week they are looking into ways to keep the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless open, following an earlier announcement that the shelter would be closing by the middle of this month.

The Stockton Shelter for the Homeless is an emergency shelter that provides beds and basic necessities for families, men and women throughout San Joaquin County.

City Manager Harry Black said he had declared a local emergency Monday as a precautionary measure to protect 250 homeless people from being displaced by Aug. 15.

“The shelter closing is not an option, it’s not an option, the shelter will not close. That is absolutely not an option.”

City Manager Harry Black

According to Black, a local emergency gives authority to the city manager to enter into contracts and draw funding from various accounts as a response to what is necessary in order to address the shelter emergency.

However, the emergency declaration still must be ratified by the City Council within seven days. A council meeting has been set for Thursday afternoon.

“The shelter closing is not an option, it’s not an option, the shelter will not close,” Black said. “That is absolutely not an option.”

Tired and broke

Although the city was informed about the closure around July 16 by the shelter’s board of directors and a specific reason for shutting down was not given, Black said he suspects the cause was a twofold reason.

“One is, I think that they were running into funding difficulties and secondly, I think that they’ve just reached a point of being fatigued,” Black said. “We all have been fighting and mitigating this whole homelessness crisis for many, many years and ultimately, like with any crisis, as we saw with the pandemic, it takes a toll on you and it takes a toll on organizations.”

The estimated cost for running the shelter annually was about $2 million to $3 million.

To keep the shelter from shutting its doors, city officials said they are in discussion with St. Mary’s Dining Room and one other organization to take over the shelter.

St. Mary’s Dining Room is a nonprofit that has been aiding poverty and homelessness since 1955 with wraparound support services such as food, showers, and care for health issues.

Construction continues on the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless Navigation Center on South Harrison Street in Stockton on Aug. 1, 2023. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

Just one year prior to the shelter attempting to close, they hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the start of construction on a new $5 million Navigation Center that would provide temporary housing and services to unhoused people.

The center was set to make 180 beds available for people and families to use inside of a three-story building.

According to Black, the center is near completion in terms of construction but with the unforeseen issues with the shelter, there will be a delay in finishing and opening the navigation center.

Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln said updates about the shelter will be released in the coming days.

“The safety and stability of Stockton Shelter residents is of utmost importance to the city of Stockton,” Lincoln said in a statement.

Victoria Franco is a reporter based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. She is a Report for America corps member.

Victoria Franco is a Stockton-based reporter covering the diverse news around the Central Valley as part of the Report for America program. As a Stockton native, Franco is proud to cover stories within her community and report a variety of coverage. She is a San Jose State University alumna with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism. In her collegiate years she was Managing Editor for the Spartan Daily. From her time at the Spartan Daily she helped lead her staff to California College Media Awards and a General Excellence first place. Victoria encourages readers to email her story tips and ideas at victoria.franco@baycitynews.com.