TURLOCK -- The City Council will consider extending the emergency cold weather homeless shelter by 30 days today. The shelter is slated to close March 31.
The shelter opened Nov. 20 and serves to keep homeless under a roof during the valley's coldest, wettest months. The council considered opening the shelter early, on Nov. 1, but decided against that because, according to Councilmen Kurt Spycher, it wasn't cold enough.
Extending the shelter to April 30 will cost $32,900 in redevelopment dollars, money set aside by state law for low- to moderate- income housing.
We Care, a nonprofit organization started by the Turlock Community Collaborative, has run the shelter, the only one in town, for more than five years. The city purchased the building at 400 B St. and leases it to the group.
"The one year we closed April 1 it rained for 10 days," said Maris Sturtevant, a We Care board member. "You just can't predict the weather."
Request added to agenda Friday
Mayor John Lazar added the item to the Redevelopment Agency agenda late Friday. The Redevelopment Agency is made up of the City Council members and meets after the council's 7 p.m. meeting.
We Care depends on local churches and volunteers to provide nightly meals to the 60 homeless people who use the shelter.
"It's the only game in town and, frankly, I think it's run properly and respectful of the neighborhood now," he said. "In the long run, it's more conducive to have them collectively in a shelter than in the doorways of downtown businesses."
Last year the council approved the 30-day extension.
Originally a warehouse, the city installed basic health and safety requirements such as exit lights, fire extinguishers and proper bathrooms before it first opened. The fire department inspected the building Friday and Monday and again found it in compliance with the state building code for emergency buildings, said Fire Chief Mark Langley.
"When the emergency shelter was first approved, we had some architect do some work to make it safe and the architect did that," Langley said.
Bee staff writer Michael R. Shea can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2391.