The community had the opportunity to stroll through the doors of the Turlock Gospel Mission’s shelter on Thursday night and see the completed project that has been years in the making.
The facility was able to start providing shelter to about 30 women and children at the end of 2017 on a first come first serve basis. TGM hopes to have enough funds raised over the next couple of months to open the men’s side of the shelter, said Brianna Fitzgerald, the Human Resources and Development director for TGM.
The newly constructed facility has dormitory style rooms for men and women, as well as an area that can be used for a family, or individuals with special needs. The shelter has showers, laundry facilities, storage, a dining room, a conference area, a wellness clinic and an industrial kitchen.
The shelter is staffed by four individuals, but that number will grow once the men’s side is opened.
Currently, the facility is operating as an emergency shelter, but in February TGM will start transitioning into a restoration shelter, which will include services like job training, social services and 12-step addiction programs.
“We will have programs that will help people and they will be held accountable if they want to stay here,” Fitzgerald said.
Suzanne Houlden started volunteering with TGM several years ago as part of the Hope Lives Here campaign. As part of her volunteer work she would take potential donors on tours of the facility, when it was just a warehouse with a frame of halls and rooms.
“It’s very emotional to see it now,” Houlden said as she sat in the brightly lit dining room, “and knowing all the hard work that was put into it and all the donations that came from the community.”
The completion of the project, which began several years ago, was greatly helped by a grant of $875,000 from the San Francisco-based Federal Home Loan Bank and its Affordable Housing Program. The mission of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco is to enable families and individuals of all income levels to obtain housing and become homeowners by providing wholesale products and services that help member financial institutions. The FHLB-SF awarded $73.6 million in Affordable Housing Program grants to 89 recipients in a competitive application process. With support from Turlock member bank Oak Valley Community Bank, the City of Turlock and Torre Reich Construction, TGM successfully applied to the FHLB-SF’s 2017 Affordable Housing Program.
The Turlock Gospel Mission began serving meals in 2008 and has offered an evening meal ministry and shelter for women and children during the cold months. The organization opened the Homeless Assistance Ministry in 2012. The H.A.M. Center is now located across from the shelter at 432 S. Broadway and offers homeless individuals a safe place to go during the day. Through the two facilities TGM will be able to bring mental illness support, substance abuse treatment coordination, medical assistance, life and career skills resources and legal aid to homeless individuals in town.
The point in time count of homeless individuals conducted in late January by the Stanislaus Housing and Support Services Collaborative found there were 248 reported homeless individuals in Turlock.