TURLOCK JOURNAL - Weililesday, Septem

YOUR VIEWS

What would Jesus do?

I was on my way home tonight and stopped by the office break room. On the table was a newspaper with the story about Turlock opting to sell its homeless facility. The first thought that came to my mind was that Turlock once held the Guinness world record for the most churches per capita, and my next thought was Matthew 25:37-45

''Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed· you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, '1 tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in,I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'"

The only bright light were the dissenting votes' from OUI1 mayor John Lazar and councilwoman Hatcher. Thank you!

I am amazed at how easily we can dismiss human suffering.

I take offense to the elitist attitudes that brand the homeless as ex-cons, and workers of illegal activities. 1 am sure tha some are, but who wouldn't be if they were starving to death, had no where. to sleep, were cold, hot, or otherwise unable to help themselves. I wonder if anyone has ever tried to liv rationally on but a few hours of sleep a week, as some of thes poor souls. Should the homeless in Turlock simply lay dow and die so as not to inconvenience the rest of us?

I don't personally know what to do, but am willing to hel if someone that knows what to do would step forward,

The excuses over the concern of potential liability ar beyond me. I can only assume that who ever said that neve consulted their insurance broker, or looked into any ris management options. Why would they based on the callou remarks made that "th~ city shouldn't be in the homeless shel ter business" which completely missed the point that the ci

;~ ::Ilrp~rly 1n the hOn1E'le-~!iO ~helter b"sin~ss; drivo do wricow or ask any of our downtown business owners or residents,

Ignoring the issue will simply lead to crimes of desperation. What would Jesus do?

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Serving the Turlock area since 1904 • VOLUME 105, ISSUE 9

SATURDAY, JANVA~Y 31, 2009 _

BY ALEX CANTATORE fog that blankets our valley

acantatore@turlockjournal.com I found m self wondering

fot Slll~ ,fJ/j

e foot parcel

0,157 squ Building

~ bouse . t' al

With Ware • IIReslden 1

dlndustna Zone

t City of Turloc.k

Contac , 0'

(209) 668-552

Local insuranceman Grant Davis stands in front of the 400 B St. warehouse that he hopes to buy aJld use as a permanent homeless shelter.

Down bUI nOI OUI

Shelter dreamer still hopes for homeless home

When the Turlock City Council dismissed Turlock insurance man Grant Davis' impassioned plea to open a new homeless shelter at 400 B St. without so much as a comment on Jan. 13, Davis was understandably upset.

"I didn't take it in stride; it took me a week to get over it," Davis said. "The next day I was depressed, discouraged, and frustrated. I'm a normal person."

But the more Davis looked at his proposal, the more time he spent calling Councilmembers trying to drum up support but finding only answering machines and unreturned calls, and the more he talked to homeless people and homeless service providers, the more he believed in what he was suggesting. And that's why Davis isn't giving up on seeing 400 B St. house another homeless shelter, despite this first set back.

Instead, Davis is going to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and any other politician who might listen to his plight. And, Davis hopes, someone who might authorize a thorough audit of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant funds that Turlock received to purchase ~~ renovate 400 B St.

'As I woke to the freezing

75 cents

how the city can legitimately use a homeless grant to get ($3 million in) federal money then not use those resources for its intended purpose," wrote Davis in a letter to Boxer. " ... I wonder where that money is now 3 years later. Since it wasn't used for the homeless shelter we need to get an accounting for these funds and ensure that they are put to their proper use."

While Davis' offer before the city-to purchase the city-owned warehouse at 400 B St. for just $1 ,000 and operate a private sheltermay seem a bit ridiculous at first blush, according to Davis and HUD it may be Turlock's only way out of repaying the grant funds to HUD.

The 400 B St. site was purchased in 2005 for $350,000 to house the Emergency Cold Weather Homeless Shelter. Earlier this year the structure was appraised at a value of $300,000.

Amazingly enough, a $1,000 sale to Davis would make the same net impact on the City's coffers as would a sale for $3 million to a nightclub developer. It's all because of the simple provision that Davis plans to use the warehouse as a shelter, the originally planned use for the facility.

SEE DAVIS, PAGEA8

the renovations, which would add showers, lockers, laundry services, and meeting roo~s where homeless could receive needed services.

"The shelter doesn't need to be nicer than our homes, but it does need to be ' clean and secure," Davis said. "I've looked at the building and it's structurally sound. It needs ramps, ADA approval, and fire sprinklers, but it can all

DAVIS

FROM PAGE Al

Because the grant funds Turlock received were only to be used to buy and remodel a homeless shelter, the City of Turlock must repay HUD any difference between the sale price of 400 B St. and the appraised value. The only

exception to that requirement would be if the purchaser planned to use the site for a HUD approved purpose, such as the shelter.

The City doesn't have the option of sitting on the site for much longer, either, as HUD will come knocking for unused funds.

"The City of Turlock decided not to (build the shelter), but they kept the money," Da-

be done."

Davis says he would rent the renovated shelter out to an established homeless service provider, such as We Care or Turlock Gospel Mission, for $1 a month, and then donate that dollar back to the organization. Davis doesn't want to make any money on the shelter, just simply to create a place open all day, every day, where homeless could receive

vis said. "I said, 'I don't get it. I don't know what I'm going to do, but I do know this; I'm going to do everything I can to keep that money spent on the homeless.'"

Should the city sell the site to Davis, he hopes to obtain $500,000 to $600,000 in HUD funding to bring the building up to code. Churches and local contractors have already agreed to help chip in with

all the services they need to get back on their feet.

"It's like the field of dreams," Davis said. "If we get the shelter, I believe, in my heart, that the community will come together."

To contact Alex Cantatore e-mail acantatore@turlock journa1.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

HUD Inspector General to review Turlock lunds

Homeless grant's whereabouts questioned by local insuranceman

BY ALEX CANTATORE

aca ntatore@turlockjournal.com

Lastweekend, during the pouring rain, Turlock insuranceman Grant Davis' son ran across an old friend in a convenience store. Ragged and drenched, the old friend was now homeless, the victim of problems at home-not drug addiction.

Instead of a house. apartment, car, or even cardboard box. the place this man now called home was, quite literally, a hole in the ground he'd found in a local field, now flooded with the rain.

"We (the City of Turlock) have the money and the ability to do something about homelessness," Davis said. "(The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) gave the city the money, but we're either so incompetent we can't manage it ... or we're keeping the money because we don't Like the idea of a shelter.

"But what about this poor kid right there," he continued. "What's the value of one person's life?"

According to Davis, Turlock Police ignored the young man's plight. telling him to "just stay out of the public eye"-just as the Turlock City Council turned a blind eye to Davis' offer to purchase the cityowned warehouse at 400 B St. to open a new, modern homeless shelter in the site of the fanner Emergency Cold Weather Shelter.

But, where the voiceless homeless cannot, Davis is making a stand. His shelter offer has yet to receive a formal reply from the City, so Davis is attempting to bring some pressure from on high, referring HUD to investigate what exactly happened to the $3 million grant Turlock received to build a shelter.

"I gave them (liUD) all the information." Davis said, "and filed a iorrnal corn~,.: mt for mismanage ment and misuse Dr public funds."

Davis has also laid out his concerns in letters to California's U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, asking for their support in his shelter proposal.

"I found myself wondering how the city can legitimately use a homeless grant to get ($3 million in) federal money then not use those resources for its intended purpose," wrote Davis in his letter to Boxer. " ... I wonder where that money is now 3 years later. Since it wasn't used for the homeless shelter we need to get an accounting for these funds and ensure that they are put to their proper use."

According to a Feb. 10 memo penned by Robert Ashworth, Director of Program Integrity with HUD, a case has been opened to address the issues Davis raised. Either the HUD Office of Inspector General or an impartial HUD official will conduct <J review. addressing all issues berore closing the case.

HUD is unable to comment on any in-progress reviews, but will notify Davis upon completion of the review.

Davis called an audit of HUD grant money a, "critical step towards putting together a common sense solution so that we can step up as a community to serve the homeless living in Turlock and our surrounding communities."

Interim City Manager Gary Hampton said he was not aware of any HUD investigation, but that the City had received a letter from HUD regarding repayment of funds.

"At this point the property 1; still being listed for sale and we are pr. ,ceeding according to Council's direction (to reappraise the structure and sell it)," Hampton sa i d

The 400 B St. site was purchased 111 2005 for $350.000 In H UD grant

~IT. HUD, PAGE A~ .. ,

TURLOCK JOURNAL - Saturday, February 21, 2009

HUD

FROMPAGEA3

money to house the Emergency Cold Weather Homeless Shelter. Earlier this year the structure was appraised at a value of $300,000.

When Turlock's attempts to sell 400 B St. at an asking price of $300,000 did not receive a single bid, the City dropped the price tag to $150,000. Again, no offers were received. at the discounted price, and the Council requested a reappraisal of the property.

Because the grant funds Turlock received were only to be used to buy and remodel a homeless shelter, the City of Turlock must repay BUD any difference

between the sale price of 400 B St. and the appraised value. Additionally,' should Turlock sit on the unused piece of property for too long the City would need to repay Hun

If the purchaser of 400 B St. intended to use the site for a HUD approved purpose, however, the City of Turlock would no longer be under any obligation to repay HUD funds. According to Davis, his shelter would be BUD approved.

Turlock Planning Department staff held a predevelopment meeting last week to meet with a potential buyer of the 400 B St. warehouse who was interested in using the warehouse for ancillary storage for his existing business. According to Planning

Director Debbie Whitmore, that potential buyer has not yet made an offer for the property and was just in the preliminary stages of seeing what he could do with the site.

Even if that offer does come in, however, Davis hopes the City of Turlock turns it down.

"We the people are willing to do the work," Davis wrote in his letter to Boxer. "We just need our officials in Turlock to account for the project, allow private citizens to rally around the project, and get it finished so we can do important work."

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@ turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

Tonight I sat with my son, Jon, he is 10 years old, I read him the newspaper articles abont Tnrlock closing and selling the homeless shelter and the letter to the editor "What Would Jesus Do"?

I asked my son what he thought Jesus would do if he was here, My son simply said, "If Jesus was here he would stop all this nonsense and keep the homeless shelter open"!

At some point, we have lost the simple faith that guides the hearts of our children, I was thinking about all the grand city buildings and churches we have, How fortunate we are to have comfortable, clean, air conditioned and heated places to worship,

As I thought about Jon's response; his use of the word nonsense seemed a little mature, I wondered ifhe understood what the word meant When I asked Jon to tell me what the word nonsense meant; to my surprise he knew what it meant So, the next logical question was why he thought this issue was nonsense, Jon told me because what I said wasn't right

I spent sometime speaking with members of our city, afew ofthe service agencies that have manned the shelter in the past, as well as a few local business owners I know I asked a lot of questions, At the end of my adult conversations, I had concluded that the reasons we have for closing the shelter, are in fact nonsense as my son Jon had said,

If Jesus visited Turlock, like in the time of the New Testament, I wonder which great building he would chose to visit Where would we go to meet him? Would we meet Him in a church, city hall, maybe the auditorium, or at one of our homes?

I don't think so, I think we would find Jesus at the buildings he instructed us build, What buildings would win the prize, where would our Lord visit us? Today, we would find Him standing in front of our homeless shelter, In the eyes of our Savior, there is no greater building in our town than those built to help the sufferings of others, No public building, church, temple or synagogue is greater in the sight of our Lord than the hom eless shelter or the other buildings we have to ease the suffering of our brothers and sisters, These buildings that help those in need stand as atestament of our faith thanksgiving and love, Do any of us doubt this? Who believes Jesus gives any honor, or assigns any value to the things we find valuable in this world?

I empathize with the local residents and businesses that have to deal everyday with people sleeping in their door ways or worse, But, to blame the homeless is misplaced,

Our city received money to buy the homeless shelter and made plans in 2005 to remodel and complete this project Yes, I've seen the plans and budgets, I don't know why the plans were never followed through with, But, I do know that they should be!

I am sure no one did anything wrong, Ijust don't think any of the homeless people in our town have a voice that was heard, They are like the poor man Jesus taught us about, coming to church in poor clothes and because of the way he looked, he sat in a poor place, while the rich man sat at the head in a grand place of honor. Jesus is no respecter of persons and has told us not to be either, "But for the grace of God, there goes I"!

What is the answer? Pull out the plans that were drawn up in 2005 and dust them off. These plans would move the homeless to the shelter the city bought for them on B Street Down the block further into the industrial area as planned, near other services for them that are already there, We need to clean up the place and put in some showers and bathrooms and make a park like place behind the building (as planned) with shelter and shade to rest, off of the streets,

Part of the project should include a maintenance and invitation crew that twice daily walks the neighborhood and invites the homeless from downtown to come to B Street to cool down, warm up, shower or get som e sleep, And, also, cleans up any and all the neighborhood of debris, The local businesses and residents also deserve a break and help,

Money? It doesu't seem to be an issue, The city was given the money to buy the shelter and in 2005 had the money to upgrade it Let us all make sure the city knows we want them to simply do the right thing,

Spending money to extend the fence around the city parking lot so no one can rest on the grass is not even a band-aid! It simply moves the problem from one place to another. Let's stop pushing people back and forth like some childish game of hot potato!

In all my years, I have never seen a problem get better by ignoring it or by moving the problem to another person's neighborhood, Those who think "Turlock shouldn't be in the homeless business" are simply ignorant of the fact that Turlock is already in the homeless business and by ignoring it Turlock will actually be committing unlimited resources to it Who knows what it is actually costing local businesses or will cost

I have never seen poverty, starvation and sleep deprivation bring out the best in anyone, A good management progr.am not only fulfills our moral obligation to our fellow man, but, gives the neighboring residents and business some hope of relief and help, That has to be better than what's happening now!

Let's stop the attack on the homeless and those that give so much of their time to help the homeless, I have met some wonderful people that spend their days helping the homeless, There are people to do the work,

Many times I walk past someone asking for a hand or don't stop my car to help som eone that looks like they need help, But, sometimes I do stop and help, The times I do stop to help are when I feel a tug at my heart, I have shared this with my children so that they know we supposed to do something to help, For me this is simply one of those times, As I hope it is now for you also, All that you need to do is simply stand up and be present and counted, ,

Please add your voice and ideas with letters to the editor or the Turlock Journal and to the Mayor and City Counsel Members, Please just let them know what you think Everyone I have spoken to possess a warm caring heart, We all need to just tug on it a bit to get everyone to do the right thing,

Grant W. Davi s

President GDI Insurance

Here is what I have found to be true, There is a place for the shelter, with a shelter on it that was paid for with federal money, It is close to other services for the homeless, There is a plan to improve the shelter with federal money, There are people to man the shelter, Turlock is already in the homeless business and paying money to help, The local businesses and residents are being neglected,

GDI Insurance Agency, Inc 801 Geer Rd, Turlock CA 95380

Ph: 209-634-2929

Toll Free: 1-888-991-2929 www.gdiinsurance.com CALic# OD01900

At the end I am left to-simply conclude there is no reason I have heard that has any merit for not having the homeless shelter as planned I have found m any reasons that by not having the shelter is a big mistake. It is morally a m istake for you andme to allow suffering when we can help it It is a mistake to play hot potato with people. It is a m istake to not have a plan. It is a big mistake to ignore it

What can you do? Five minutes and a stamp to write a letter to the city counsel, the editor of the paper or come to the counsel meetings, speak if you feel inclined, or bring a simple piece of paper to hold up that says "What Would Jesus Do". I really believe this is the right thing to do and that we can make a difference and help.

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