Building a Better Turlock: How the Homeless Problem will Inevitably Challenge Healthcare for the Middle Class in our Community

Read the full report: LHE Homeless Report PDF

Dear Reader,

The report that follows is very straight forward. It discusses the problems of the homeless and our Community at large.

Turlock does not have a homeless “crisis,” but we do have a homeless problem. This problem impacts too many downtown businesses, healthcare providers, the police and fire departments and citizens generally. Our Community’s homeless problem must be addressed urgently and effectively.

This report examines all components of that problem. It concludes that with much better communication, collaboration, greater nonprofit homeless board involvement and a shared strategic vision we can address some of the more troubling aspects of the problem The shared strategic vision should be driven by the organizations serving the homeless, not city government. It needs to be vetted across the community for people to decide to support, oppose or ignore.

In my opinion, our “crisis” is the growing number of middle-class Turlock families who are living on the edge of poverty, trying to survive from paycheck-to-paycheck. Some have a home to go to; some do not. I think the strategic vision needs to take into account this sector of our Community and offer strategies to ensure they have a strong safety net.

If we are to grow our economy, strengthen public schools and demonstrate that Turlock’s future is bright, we must address this crisis. In part, this requires the development of a longer-term, broader strategic plan by the City Council, greater nonprofit community and faith-based community. While we want our near-term focus to be on the homeless, we need to direct resources and long-term energy so that more working families do not become homeless.

A very special thank you to Allie Jeffery, of our team, for the excellent work she did in helping bring this report together. Her help has been invaluable. The recommendations are mine and are designed to challenge the Community to read and think about the report. The recommendations will annoy some, anger others, and satisfy only a few. Constructive strategies and criticisms are needed and welcomed. By assessing, evaluating, and recommending viable strategies and initiatives, we can solve real problems. This report and the debate that follows is a healthy part of the solution that can help move our Community forward.

To help with this challenge, our foundation has recently made three strategic grants. First, LHE will open a charitable pharmacy in Turlock. For any family who lacks health insurance coverage or prescription drug coverage, the charitable pharmacy will be available to help you with needed medications. Second, we have given a grant to the United Samaritans Foundation for families and individuals who are not homeless but need financial assistance with healthcare or access to needed medications. Finally, a grant to the Castle Family Health Centers has allowed for the creation and launch of a mobile health clinic van that is showing up in different communities. Again, the goal is to give people access to care, where payment is not an issue.

I hope you will join our Board of Directors and me as we help move our Community forward. The challenges are great, and the opportunities are enormous. As always, if you want to reach me, please email me at jeffrey@legacyhealthendowment.org or call me at the office 209/250-2315.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey R. Lewis

President and Chief Executive Officer