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Lodi councilman turns experience with homelessness to help take people off the streets

He wants to be a positive force for change in others after transforming himself from homeless man to businessman

LODI, Calif. — One community's approach to solving the homeless crisis in California hits very close to home.

A Lodi city council member, who used to be homeless, is using his experience to create more well-rounded programming and a new shelter to get people off the streets.

"By the time I was 16, I found myself with nowhere to live and sleeping on sofas and park benches," said Doug Kuehne.

Kuehne said he had a difficult childhood that led him down a path involving drugs and alcohol. However, he knew he couldn't stay on that path forever.

 "I decided I would get my life back on track. Mainly, it was friends that encouraged me to move in that direction and get my high school diploma," he said.

Now, he wants to be a positive force for change in others after transforming himself from homeless man to businessman and running his own company for nearly four decades.

"Through that whole journey in my life, I found that people were there to walk beside me, alongside me, to encourage me and point me in the right direction," Kuehne said.

His experience led him to Lodi's new access center shelter, a facility that is still in the works but will eventually provide more wrap-around services and connect homeless people with resources to success.

It's the latest effort that has been implemented over recent years, including transitional housing, tiny home communities, job training and partnerships with the Salvation Army and local businesses.

"A lot of people find themselves homeless," Kuehne said. "Some of the big reasons that a lot of people didn't think about are the normal stressors in life— like going through a divorce, losing a job—some people have the coping skills to be able to handle those stressors and other people don't."

If you would like to donate, contact Councilmember Doug Kuehne: lodiansfordoug@gmail.com. The organization that is running the Lodi Access Center is Inner City Action. More info at www.innercityaction.org

The security team that patrols around the Access Center, Lodi’s downtown area and four public parks is Safety Ambassador. They also respond to building alarms, and they provide an escort service to walk people to their cars at night, though Councilman Kuehne said no one has used the escorts yet. More info at lodisafety@downtownstockton.org.

The organization used for trash cleanup around businesses to reduce blight from the homeless crisis is Ready to Work. More info at www.readytoworksjc.org.

The Inner City Action Access Center is located at 710 N. Sacramento Street in Lodi, running 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. nightly. It offers daily services such as breakfast, lunch dinner, mobile showers, hair cuts, clean restrooms, phone charging stations, dog meal, coffee bar, clothes closet, snack bar, and storage.


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