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Turlock homeless storage facility project moves forward
Turlock had 211 unsheltered individuals in this year’s point-in-time homeless count (Journal file photo).

Turlock’s homeless individuals will soon have a place to securely store their belongings, following the City Council’s approval of a loan to the Turlock Gospel Mission to purchase property for the purpose of a storage facility.

The Turlock City Council approved a $183,000 20-year forgivable loan to the Turlock Gospel Mission on Tuesday to purchase a parcel of land with a garage storage building adject to the mission’s shelter on South Broadway for the purpose of operating a property storage program. The funding comes from the $585,000 the City received from the County through a Homeless Emergency Aid Program grant.

“The idea of personal storage is to allow people to store their belongings. It helps to reduce the hoarding and the need for shopping carts to hold their belongings,” said Assistant to the City Manager for Economic Development and Housing Maryn Pitt.

Following concerns voiced from City Council-elect Rebecka Monez, the Council voted to approve the loan with stipulations that in the event that the gospel mission decides to no longer run a storage facility program for the homeless at that site, that they must notify the City and a lien on the loan amount could be called in.

“My issue is that TGM has had a lot of change over in recent years and its administration. We haven’t polled the neighbors of this property and everybody knows that my heart for the homeless is huge and this is something that we want to get done, it’s just that I think we need to get a covenant in the contract so if they do decide that they’re not going to play ball and provide the storage facility anymore that the City can recoup the property. I got a lot of phone calls on this this week; this is a big concern,” said Monez.

This project first came before the City Council in December 2019 as part of a list of Homeless Emergency Aid Program projects. H.E.A.P. was signed into law by then 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, 2018. The funding is based on population and the 2017 point in time homeless count.

The other projects approved in 2019 included allocating $240,000 in H.E.A.P. funds to demolish and rebuild the We Care emergency homeless shelter’s kitchen and dining areas and $240,000 to update TGM’s day center.

In 2019, the storage facility project received some push back from downtown business and community members who were upset that the storage facility could expand the footprint of homeless services offered to individuals beyond the couple of blocks on S. Broadway. The project was approved by the Council 3-2, but a specific site was not identified at that time.

“We believe this is a critical service. This has ramifications on a number of blight issues and other homeless nuisance related issues so we think this is a critical project. But the truth is…we’re looking at how we can become more holistic in our system of care in conjunction and relationship with the other nonprofits and service providers, include the County, etc. and so at some point in the future, this storage service may not be necessary. We feel like it’s important to say that this is a pilot project. We are committed to using the structure (for homeless services),” said TGM CEO Christian Curby at Tuesday’s meeting.