The Turlock Gospel Mission is opening their day center for overnight use for at least the next five days to help homeless individuals in Turlock, particularly those who have moved out of the tent city at Broadway Park.
The day center usually operates from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Starting on Tuesday and continuing through Saturday, the day center will serve as an overnight shelter from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. The day center will be open to men, women and children. Homeless individuals also can bring their pets and store their personal items at the day center.
Guests can come in at any time during those hours. TGM will serve dinner at 6 p.m. at their shelter, located across the street from the day center.
“The Turlock Gospel Mission is opening its day center overnight for the next several days to give the men and women being displaced from public parks a place for a soft landing,” said TGM Executive Director Christian Curby. “This is not a long-term solution but it is an opportunity to be in a safe and warm place for the next few nights as they are deciding what is next. All of us at the Turlock Gospel Mission hope that this is the moment when these individuals choose to engage the services of the Mission as well as the other providers in Turlock.”
On a routine basis TGM operates a shelter for women and children, provides meals, and offers case management, veterinary assistance, and connecting individuals with medical and veteran services if needed.
The overnight use of the day center comes as the City of Turlock enforced city ordinances that had been violated at Broadway Park. Following the dismantling of the homeless encampment under and near the Golden State Boulevard overpass by Stanislaus County, many of the homeless relocated to Broadway Park.
Broadway Park 11-27-18Workers Cleaning Up
Turlock’s municipal code prohibits camping in public spaces, but enforcement of that ordinance was suspended in September when a U.S. appeals court ruled such ordinances were unconstitutional.
The city does have two other ordinances dealing with camping or residing in public areas, like parks. Individuals are not allowed to have up any sort of structure, including tents. However, the Turlock Police Department has only been enforcing this during certain hours.
“We are enforcing this on a case by case basis,” Turlock Police spokesman Sgt. Russ Holeman said in a previous interview. “We could go down to the park at two or three in the morning and find many people in violation of the municipal code which prohibits the tents being erected down there. However, we’re not really enforcing it at that time because we’re trying to be empathetic to their plight. It’s three in the morning, it’s been relatively cold at night, sometimes very close to freezing, and to go tell them at that time to take their tent down and expose them to the elements — that’s not what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to enforce the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law. What we’ve been doing is to go down there at eight or nine o’clock in the morning and let them know at that time that they need to take their tents down.
“It’s a neighborhood park and it’s surrounded by houses and we want to allow the neighborhood to use that park as it was intended,” Holeman said.
Broadway Park 11-27-18 (2)Altercation during clean up
The City also has another ordinance addressing private property stored in public areas, an issue that was arising at Broadway Park. The ordinance states that it is unlawful for any person to store personal property, including camping gear, in any park, street or other public area. The property is considered stored if it has remained in a public area for 24 hours after a written notice requesting removal has been served. If the property is not removed, then the city will collect it and keep it in storage for up to 90 days. If it is not claimed within that 90-day time period it can be destroyed or discarded.
The City of Turlock’s Neighborhood Services
were out at the park on Nov. 19 posting notices to have all personal property
removed by the afternoon of Nov. 20. Twenty-four hours later the city workers
were back at the park with a heavy police escort, and the full intention of
removing the property that remained in the park. But issues of whether or not
the property had been properly documented arose and tempers among some of the
homeless were rising. The decision was made by the city to repost the removal
notice and document all the property in and around the park and come back on
the afternoon of Nov. 21 to check on the compliance.
On Nov. 21, the City of Turlock released a statement that the property removal would not logistically be possible on that day, so the enforcement effort was postponed to Tuesday afternoon.
The tent city at Broadway Park was serving as a temporary home to an estimated 75 people at the start of last week. By Tuesday, when city workers arrived to clean up the park about a dozen people remained. Tensions quickly escalated when city workers started filling up a trailer with some of the possessions on the street. Police were on scene and the situation was resolved to some extent by members of the Rock Bottom Riders, a Christian motorcycle club. Liz Padilla, a member of the club, said they had rented a storage unit for the homeless individuals to use to store their possessions.