Every day 20 to 30 individuals find temporary respite from the streets at the Turlock Gospel Mission Homeless Assistance Ministry. Turlock's first homeless day center opened in February 2012 in the city's former youth center on East Avenue.
Last week, the Turlock City Council voted to extend the lease of the Homeless Assistance Ministry Center, however, for a shorter time than what was originally requested.
According to board president Chris Kiriakou, the Turlock Gospel Mission has been working on relocating the ministry permanently to a site at 437 South Broadway. He stated that although work is being done on the new facility, there is still an apparent need for an extension.
“We’re about a third of the way through, and we’re hoping we can complete the engineering and file for a permit by the end of the year,” Kiriakou told the City Council.
Council member Amy Bublak stated that she had received calls from concerned citizens who were unsure whether or not the facility would actually move to its permanent location. Bublak proposed a six month extension, citing that approving another two year extension would not be reassuring to the area's residents.
“It's not about closing you down and shutting the doors,” said Bublak. “It's more about showing a commitment after a year.”
Kiriakou said development of the permanent homeless center had slowed recently, not due to lack of resolve in building the project, but due to lack of funding.
“As you recall, we were funded entirely from the community,” said Kiriakou.“We want to move down there as soon as possible; and because we’re funded solely by the community, we’re at their discretion.”
After a short discussion, the council agreed that although an extension was necessary, some sign of development progress was needed. As a result, the council renewed the lease for only one year.
Council member William DeHart applauded the work of the center, stating that it had helped create jobs and find homes for those who needed it in the area.
“Statistics don't lie and changed lives don't lie," said Dehart. “When we have that going on and we can be a part of that in partnership with a ministry such as that, I say let's go full speed ahead.”