Latinos ask Turlock to build homes and help shelter the homeless



Miguel Donoso, member of Families de la Raza Unida de Turlock, advocated for affordable housing and homelessness in the city at a council meeting on September 14, 2021.

Calls for affordable housing again sprouted at a Turlock city council meeting on Tuesday as Latino advocates denounced the lack of options, overcrowded living conditions and discrimination against its population of sans. -shelter.

Four members of Families de la Raza Unida from Turlock, a new organization fighting for low-cost housing in the area, said Latino and black residents disproportionately suffer from the inability to pay their rent and afford their expenses. own accommodation. This despite the fact that many work and share accommodation with several people.

Advocates also say the city openly discriminates against its homeless by accepting federal money which they say should help the mobility of this population, but is instead used to sweep up settlements.

This isn’t the first time the group has appeared before the council, but more families spoke on Tuesday than before. The organization is asking the city to invest in affordable options for its working population but also its homeless, such as the Housing Choice Voucher program. Article 8 apartments and more opportunities for low-income first-time buyers.

MaryLu Pelyo, organizer of Families de la Raza Unida de Turlock, said in a phone interview that housing was already dire before the pandemic, but prices have since skyrocketed, wiping out low-income families.

“I personally know families, families who live with two, three other families in one house or one apartment because there are not even rooms to rent,” she said in Spanish.

One of those families, the Cortez, appeared before council on Tuesday, with Edgar Cortez defending his wife and young children. “I have come to support… the housing of hard-working families like ours,” he said in Spanish.

The limited affordable housing options left the family with no choice but to share a single home with three other families, Pelyo said.

Turlock’s homeless sweep away a worry

The city’s recent action to shut down homeless settlements against public health guidelines has also raised concerns among the undocumented community, said Miguel Donoso, activist for the Hispanic task force and member of Families de la Raza. Unida by Turlock.

If housing is not available for citizens, he said he wonders what that will mean for undocumented immigrants in the area who served as essential workers long before the pandemic.

“How is it possible that many (homeless) are citizens… and now (the city) wants to evict them?” He declared in Spanish during a telephone interview.

Advocates said they disagreed with the city’s management of funds like the Community Development Block Grant (CBDG), which provides annual federal funding to public service programs that benefit low-income families. . They believe that the city is abusing funds by not investing in housing and its homeless. However, this money is not allowed to go to homeless services or housing construction, according to Turlock.

The city has funds that can be used to tackle housing and the homeless crisis, like the $ 16 million in COVID-19 aid that was granted in March. Turlock town leaders have yet to hold a workshop to discuss how they plan to use the money.

Members of Turlock’s Families de la Raza Unida said they would continue to attend city council meetings and plan to get more families to share their testimonies until action is taken. “We’re going to be here every month to put pressure on you,” Donoso told council members.

Those interested in joining the organization can contact Pelyo, first by SMS, at 209-284-8975.

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Andrea is the equity / underserved communities reporter for the Modesto Bee Economic Mobility Lab. She is originally from Fresno and graduated from San Jose State University.

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