Bathrooms, services, shelters: Turlock considers how it can help its homeless


The Turlock City Council has declared a shelter crisis, which means the city can compete for some of the $7.2 million in one-time state money to deal with homelessness in the area.

Council members voted 3-0 at a special meeting Wednesday in support of the shelter crisis resolution.

Councilman Gil Esquer was not able to attend the meeting, and the council is down one member since Councilwoman Amy Bublak was sworn in as mayor Tuesday after winning the Nov. 6 mayoral election. The council is soliciting applicants to fill the open council seat.

The special meeting included a brainstorming session in which about 50 members of the public broke into four groups to discuss potential ways to address homelessness in Turlock.

The city’s homeless population is estimated at 250, while there are about 100 emergency shelter beds in Turlock.

The ideas included providing the homeless with bathrooms, housing them in what are called tiny homes, an apprenticeship program to teach them job skills, bringing the Modesto-based Cleansing Hope Shower Shuttle to Turlock, and doing more outreach to let the homeless know about services.

“Thank you all,” Bublak told audience members near the end of the meeting. “That was awesome.”

Bublak also said the meeting was a good start to an ongoing conversation. She added that helping the homeless should lessen the impact of some of them on businesses and residents. Business owners have to deal with trash and human waste as well as concerns from customers who don’t feel safe.

California has set aside $500 million in one-time money to help communities across the state deal with the homelessness crisis.

The state is providing $7.2 million of that money to the Stanislaus Community System of Care, which is made up of local governments, homeless service providers and others. The system of care expects to receive the money early next year.

The system of care will use a competitive process to award the $7.2 million to programs and projects. But cities and counties cannot receive funding unless they declare a shelter crisis.

Cities and counties — including Modesto and Stanislaus County — across California have declared shelter crises, though some have not. Making such a declaration does not obligate a local government to build a shelter, just to spend the money to help the homeless.

Turlock City Manager Bob Lawton has said the declaration gives the City Council the opportunity to decide whether it wants to pursue some of the $7.2 million. Potential projects could include an access center, more emergency shelter beds and permanent supportive housing.

County officials, including CEO Jody Hayes, attended the meeting and talked about the larger effort to address homelessness throughout the county and its cities.