Galt resident Mark Jackson told the Citizen that he hopes to soon open a transitional housing project for homeless men in Elk Grove.
Jackson is the president, CEO and founder of the St. Martin Foundation, Inc., which has a mission to reduce homelessness among male veterans and non-veterans transitioning from alcohol addiction recovery programs and/or incarceration.
This nonprofit is designed to help its participants successfully reintegrate into society by providing them with tools and training necessary to be employable, and to sustain their day-to-day living.
With this mission, the foundation intends to provide housing and assist its participants in obtaining state and county resources.
St. Martin Foundation, Inc. has also partnered with another nonprofit, California Human Development, to help homeless people get jobs through the Employment Development Department and receive funding for education.
Jackson noted that his foundation is currently seeking to open its first transitional housing project off Grant Line Road in Elk Grove.
“If we come to an agreement next week, we could be in the house by Feb. 1,” he said.
He added that if the building passes inspections, which includes a county inspection, the place could have its first tenants this March.
However, Jackson said that there are more details pertaining to that timeline.
“We’re talking with the owner of the house; we’re supposed to meet next week with him and work out the details,” he said. “But it’s a process, because you’ve got to go through the city of Elk Grove and you have to get the building permit. You have to get everything permitted.”
Jackson mentioned that it is not easy to find a place to establish transitional housing.
“It’s hard to find housing, unless you own the house yourself, or you own the building yourself,” he said. “I know that there’s a lot of people out there that don’t want to rent to us. They don’t want a program like that in their house.
“That’s a major problem that we’ve came across. I get it, too. I get it. People don’t want something like that their neighborhood. They want you to do something about the homeless problem, and the drug problem and all this and that, but they don’t want it in their town or in their neighborhood.”
Jackson noted that his foundation’s housing is designed to weed out the “bad apples.”
“We have a house manager that’s overseeing everything,” he said. “You know, there are flophouses out there where people go, and people are still doing drugs and this and that. Our program? No. You’re either there to better yourself or we can’t have you there.”
Jackson added that his desire to help those who are unhoused is associated with his own background.
“In 2015, I was actually homeless,” he said. “I was a homeless veteran. So you know, I went through the steps with the (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs). The VA got me into the Salvation Army homeless shelter, and then I got the transitional housing. And in the mix through there, the VA helped me get educational benefits.
“So, since going through the process, I’m a barber. I own my own barber shop out here in Galt.”
Jackson mentioned that he joined the U.S. Navy after graduating from Galt High School in 2002.
“I did a tour of duty in the (Persian) Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom,” he said.
With his past including homelessness, Jackson mentioned that he is dedicated to assisting the local homeless community.
“I feel God has given me a pathway into helping these people,” he said. “That’s where the St. Martin Foundation comes in is to help these men that are coming out of homelessness or coming out of a (substance abuse) program, because once they come from the drug and alcohol program, where do they go to? They go back to the streets.
“I want to bridge the gap between homelessness, between recovery home rehabs into transitional housing – transitional living, if you will.”
Jackson noted that his foundation also pursued houses in Galt for conversion into transitional housing.
“We’ve been looking in Galt for houses, because we do have a lot of support in Galt, but we’ve extended our search in Elk Grove a little bit,” he said. “We did walk a facility here in Galt with the mayor, Shawn Farmer, and (Vice Mayor) Paul Sandhu, but with no luck at the time.”
He added that, last August, his nonprofit approached the Galt City Council to seek startup funding, but that he does not believe that city has any funds set aside for startup projects.
Jackson emphasized that the foundation’s proposed transitional housing near Grant Line Road is currently the strongest possibility for this organization to establish such a project.
“We’ve been working on this (Elk Grove project) since (April) 2022,” he said. “And now we’re ready. We’re ready to get a place and start running.”