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Warming center opens in Turlock
TGM day center
Individuals can escape inclement weather in the safety of the warming center from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. at the Turlock Gospel Mission’s day center building, located at 432 S. Broadway Ave. in Turlock (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Close to freezing temperatures have prompted the opening of an emergency warming center in Turlock.

Turlock Gospel Mission is partnering with Helping Hands Ministry to provide a warming center in the gospel mission’s day center building, located at 432 S. Broadway Ave. in Turlock, on nights when the weather is considered dangerous. The warming center will be open on nights that it is raining and/or below 40 degrees.

Freezing temperatures (32 degrees) were recorded in Turlock on Wednesday night, followed by moderate rain showers on Thursday. Temperatures were forecasted to dip to 36 degrees on Friday and Saturday, before raising to 42 degrees on Sunday and 44 on Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

Individuals can escape inclement weather in the safety of the warming center from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. in addition to the day center’s regular hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Warm drinks such as coffee and hot chocolate will be provided along with pastries and various snacks. The warming center is open to men, women and children.

In December, the Turlock City Council approved two projects that will eventually see the expansion of available emergency shelter beds in town year-round using state grant funds designated specifically for homeless housing.

Homeless Emergency Aid Program 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.

It is allocated to Continuums of Care across the state, with Stanislaus County getting approximately $7.2 million in funding. The Stanislaus Community System of Care has decided $5 million goes 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. Modesto got the lion’s share of this pot of money at $4 million.

Another $1 million was 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. Turlock’s share of the grant amounted to $585,000.

H.E.A.P. funds have to be used for services, capital construction costs, or housing subsidies that will benefit homeless individuals. It cannot be used as operating reserves or for enforcement or encampment activities. At least half of the money must be spent or contractually obligated by January and the second half by June 2021.

The Turlock City Council approved spending $240,000 in H.E.A.P. grant funds to demolish and rebuild the kitchen and dining areas of the We Care shelter for men. It will include a community room equipped with fire sprinklers and other safety requirements, which once installed, it will allow We Care to use the space for overflow shelter beds when necessary and has a training area when not needed as a shelter.

The second project approved by the Council will see $240,000 in grant funds spent to update TGM’s day center. The work will include roof repairs, rehabilitating the bathrooms and the kitchen, and installing the necessary equipment to allow TGM to use the entire day center as an overflow shelter when needed.

Both of these projects will add between 30 to 40 beds to the current shelter bed count of 112 in Turlock.