BARSTOW — Mayor Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre proclaimed Monday that the homeless will be moved out of the downtown area "one way or the other."
The mayor made her remarks during a joint meeting of the City Council and Planning Commission to discuss the Route 66 downtown Barstow Specific Plan.
"Homeless — our main focus is to move that somewhere else, period. We will get that done," she said. While she did not specify what was moving, the Desert Manna homeless shelter at 209 N. First Ave. plans to move its operation some time in the future to land purchased in the 2300 block of East Main Street.
Escrow for the property closed a year ago on the 3.67 acres long Interstate 40. Desert Manna plans to build a campus that would include a dormitory-type facility. It is possible that other agencies that deal with such issues as mental health would build facilities as well.
"I don't care what that specific group thinks. It's going to get moved," Hackbarth-McIntyre said. "Whether they are in charge of it or not."
On Wednesday, the mayor said she was referring to the whole homeless situation in the downtown area when she spoke at the joint meeting Monday.
Presently, Desert Manna pays the city $1 a year to lease the First Avenue building. On April 15, Desert Manna CEO and President Darrin Fikstad asked Assemblyman Jay Obernolte for help in dealing with the Barstow City Council to provide more support to Desert Manna.
"Our issue with the city, is they refuse when it comes to funding. They turn us down constantly. Not a dime year after year after year," Fiskstad told Obernolte during a tour of the shelter. "We have so much support from everybody but the town."
When reached on Wednesday, Fikstad said Desert Manna is on a 24-month timeline in moving to the East Main Street property, but will need help from the city. He said he's working on various funding sources such as HUD. But Community Development Block grants will be needed with infrastructure needs such as running a sewer line to the property.
"Desert Manna is working diligently to move the whole housing program, which includes emergency shelters, for citizens of Barstow who need emergency housing to our East Main Street property," Fikstad said.
Mike Lamb can be reached at 760-957-0613 or email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @mlambdispatch.