Turlock declares homelessness a city emergency

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The Latest (Tuesday, March 16)

8:05 p.m.

The Turlock City Council unanimously ratified the local emergency declaration Tuesday night.

City officials are preparing to address at least three specific homeless encampments located within Turlock, according to the release.

The announcment said more than 50 people have set up camp on private property located at 1400 West Main Street and that location will be the first encampment to be addressed by the city.

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TURLOCK, Calif. (KTXL) – With more and more encampments popping up across Turlock, city leaders are declaring homelessness a local emergency.

“We have certainly seen a growth of those camps and an increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness inside the city limits,” said CEO Christian Curby of the Turlock Gospel Mission.

Curby told FOX40 Tuesday the declaration is a critical first step for the city to address the growing issue. 

“I think we’re looking at this emergency declaration as another opportunity to partner with the city, in trying to find pathways for the individuals who are currently unsheltered. To find shelter and eventually permanent housing,” Curby explained.

The Turlock city council will ratify the emergency declaration at a special meeting Tuesday night and discuss spending nearly $500,000 to assist shelter providers with an expansion so they can accommodate more people.

A portion of the money will also go towards cleaning up those encampment sites after moving people out. 

Curby said the number of individuals experiencing homelessness has grown in the last year from around 250 to closer to 400. 

“I’d like to see more intentional planning for how our community intends to deliver services to the poor, how our community intends to mitigate the impact of those, those services on the rest of the community,” Curby said “And ultimately, my hope is that we are able to plan for a future where every person who lives in Turlock has a place to live.”

The local emergency is a 120-day plan to connect houseless individuals with services or reconnect them with their families. 

Liz Padilla, a volunteer with Helping Hands Ministry said the city should be doing more. 

“Shame on you Turlock, because we left our homeless behind,” Padilla said.

While the emergency declaration allows the city to address immediate needs, city officials said they’re also working with organizations on a long-term, three-year plan.

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