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Homeless day center finds permanent home
Knights of Columbus buy former Youth Center
HAM Center pic1
Guests of the Homeless Assistance Ministry gather in the back yard of the ministry's new home on S. Broadway. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal

The Homeless Assistance Ministry now has a permanent home in Turlock, thanks to a partnership between the Turlock Gospel Mission and the City of Turlock to purchase the Knights of Columbus building at 432 S. Broadway.

The City Council voted on Tuesday to approve a loan agreement between the City and the Turlock Gospel Mission, which operates the HAM center, in the amount of $123,000 to purchase the Broadway building using Community Development Block Grant program funds.

"This is an excellent opportunity to show a strong partnership with the City on helping to make Turlock a better community," said TGM Board President Chris Kiriakou.

The Homeless Assistance Ministry opened in 2012 in the former Youth Center on East Avenue with the goal of offering homeless individuals a safe place to go during the day, while providing resources to help them get off the streets.

In 2015, the HAM center provided services to an average of 37 guests a day, including helping people obtain identification, get in touch with job skills training, housing, substance abuse programs, healthcare, veterans' affairs and other social services.

"The HAM center is the hub of what we do. It's a connection to all of the services needed, with the goal of restoration," said Kiriakou.

In 2014, the homeless center moved from the City-leased building to a rented facility on S. First Street. The move wasn't completely welcomed by First Street residents. During neighborhood forums mediated by City staff, residents complained about the influx of people gathering in front of their homes, some using foul language, using their yards as restrooms and causing disturbances.

The homeless center's new location sits directly across the street from the Turlock Gospel Mission's year-round shelter, which is currently under construction, and down the street from other outreach organizations including the United Samaritan's Foundation and We Care emergency cold weather shelter.

While the HAM center gets settled into their new building, the former Youth Center which sat vacant since the homeless center moved out will welcome new owners.

The City Council approved the sale of the former Youth Center to the Knights of Columbus organization in the amount of $245,000. The Catholic fraternal service organization will move into the East Avenue facility, which was originally built in 1941.

"We're very pleased to make this happen and I think it'll be better for the City to get this building occupied," said Knights of Columbus President Dennis Serpa.

According to Maryn Pitt, assistant to the city manager for economic development and housing, proceeds of the Youth Center sale will go into the City's General Fund.