This editorial will deal with the reason why we do not have permanent shelter. It is important for the public to know and understand why.
This editorial is my opinion and mine alone. This editorial is not meant to anger the Turlock City Council or anyone on it. This editorial is written for informative purposes and should not effect the outcome of the permanent shelter, when and if it occurs.
First, let me tell you how close we came to getting a permanent shelter. As you probably already know, the B Street cold weather shelter (co-ed) located at 400 B St. in Turlock was to be the future permanent shelter.
We had the site, the blue prints and a $3.9 million grant from HUD. As Mich Matthews, a homeless advocate put it, “the council blew it.” Meaning, they took away the $3.9 million in funding. How they could do that I still don’t understand.
The next stop was to take our location away by listening to unfounded remarks from a few citizens, a very few, and business people in town who were the same old complainers.
The third and final disaster to hit us by the City Council was the uncompassionate and unfeeling way they used stalling techniques to delay the progress. They also used dirty politics, like the shelter was opened without being up to code. I knew that was a lie because I was in the shelter and overheard the fire chief tell the shelter director that if he would put up six ceiling heaters and cooling units with fans, he would be all set and up to code.
The second thing was our director was letting in child molesters to the shelter. I know the director well and that was done deliberately to discredit him and it was a lie. The director is decent and honest man and has worked very hard and long for his dream of a permanent shelter for the homeless. Well, that did it, the shelter closed shortly after that. I will never forget the remark City Councilman Ted Howze made, saying he would not let sheep stay there.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was warm and it was home.
I want you, the public, to remember that having money and being in office a long time does not make a good politician. A good politician cares about all people, even homeless people, and not just big business enterprise. If you care about human rights for all, yes, that’s the homeless also.
In closing, it is important that we be as independent as possible. That is why I believe the homeless shelter should be privately owned by a nonprofit organization. That way, the only way the city can be involved is with codes. It will be a struggle, but it can be done through fundraisers and the support from you, the public.
I also believe that the designated area should be expanded so we have a better chance of finding property and a building that will suite our needs. Now you know why we do not have a permanent shelter.
Even though I am no longer homeless, I still care and I always will because you never know what will happen in the future. And besides, it’s the right thing to do.
Please try attending City Council meeting (they are held the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 7 p.m. at City Hall) and express your opinion about anything that concerns you and the City of Turlock.
— Mel Powell