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City will address issues involving warming center

The Turlock Gospel Mission will have a familiar face as it takes the lead role for the City of Manteca’s Warming Center.

Rudy Valencia, who grew up in Manteca, will be among the full-time personnel at the temporary overnight shelter at 555 Industrial Park Drive scheduled to open on the first week of December and stay open through March 31.

“I grew up here and wished I had the answers to make everything good,” he said, referring to the concerns of nearby business and property owners airing their concerns at Wednesday’s Zoom meeting hosted by the City of Manteca.

The Manteca City Council recently gave the green light on the return of the Warming Center, which was enacted as emergency to help the homeless about a year ago.

At Nov. 10 meeting, elected leaders approved the temporary installation of a modular buildings to provide meals, personal hygiene and other services to the homeless population with winter just around the corner.

The Turlock Gospel Mission agreed to take the lead role in providing overnight accommodations for up to 50 people on the former Qualex property currently owned by the City. This non-profit organization currently operates a similar-type facility for the City of Turlock that debuted in late 2017 – the year-round homeless shelter on South Broadway in downtown Turlock has accommodations for men, women and children along with a host of services.

“(Turlock Gospel Mission) is expanding its services to our shelter,” said Johanna Ferriera, who is the City’s Senior Management Analyst.

Inner City Action Manteca operated the Warming Center during the previous year. But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit with some of the previously sheltered left scrambling – any sort of enforcement was hands off back then under directives from state health officials.

“We couldn’t move them back then,” said Economic Development Manager Don Smail, who heard property and business owners air their concerns about the popping up of homeless encampments along with cases of break-ins and vandalisms. “The rules of engagement are different now.”

The City – included was Manteca Police Officer Mike Kelly, who is the homeless liaison, provided his contact numbers to the nearby business and property owners – and the Turlock Gospel Mission will work together in hopes of avoiding a repeat of such actions.

Gospel Mission Executive Director Christian Curby will provide hotline contacts for garbage and other issues in the area.

“We’re committed to supporting business owners having any issues,” he said.

According to Curby, the Warming Center will take down information for those using the temporary facilities.

Those checking in can specify if their intentions are staying nightly or on a daily basis. “If it’s nightly, they’ll be assigned a bed,” he said.

Curby noted that the Warming Center will offer many of the same resources as that of the year-round in Turlock.

As for long-term solutions for the homeless, Ferriera said the City will look for “a place that makes sense.”

She added: “Industrial Park Drive might not be it – that (decision) will be up to Council.”