The City of Turlock had to make the declaration to gain access to the $7.2 million in funds from the Homeless Emergency Aid Program that has been allocated to Stanislaus Community System of Care. The funding is based on population and the 2017 point in time homeless count.
The vote to make the shelter declaration passed 3-0. Councilman Gil Esquer was absent from the special meeting on Wednesday afternoon and the seat for District 4 is currently vacant.
“This is one small way for us to support those that are supporting the people we’re talking about,” said Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak.
HEAP was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in June 2018 and opens up a $500 million block grant to provide direct assistance to cities and counties to help with homelessness. The state required the declaration of a shelter crisis for entities to access the funds and the declaration had to be made by Dec. 31.
The Stanislaus Community System of Care has decided $5 million will go to capital improvements, which can include improvements to existing shelters and facilities, transitional housing and capacity building, but does not include building new shelters. Cities and counties that declare a shelter crisis are not required to build a new shelter.
Another $1 million will be set aside for homeless youth outreach and services, and then $500,000 each for outreach and navigation services, and emergency needs, like rent subsidies or motel vouchers. The state requires that 5 percent of the allocated funds be used on administrative costs.
“We are a community that cares, but we also understand there are holes in the things we can offer to this very vulnerable population in our city,” said Councilmember Nicole Larson.
The Stanislaus Community System of Care is forming a committee to best determine the dispersal of the funds among the eligible cities and county. The funds are expected to be available in the next few months. The committee will include Stanislaus County Chief Executive Officer Jody Hayes and the city managers from participating cities.
The point in time count from 2017 showed approximately 1,600 homeless people in Stanislaus County, with 250 in Turlock. The We Care shelter for men has 49 beds and has been routinely filled. The Turlock Gospel Mission has beds for 59 women and children with an average of 40 guests per night. The point in time count from 2017 was used because a review of the 2018 count found the procedures were flawed and that a fair number of people were not counted, explained Turlock’s Assistant to the City Manager for Economic Development and Housing Maryn Pitt.
The declaration of the shelter crisis was part of a larger meeting on homelessness that included breakout sessions among community members on: prevention and jobs, bathrooms and businesses, community engagement and housing.