Campus: CSU Stanislaus -- October 12, 2005

University Awarded $600,000 Grant For Homeless Center

California State University, Stanislaus has been awarded a $600,000 federal grant to establish a resource center that will serve the homeless population of Turlock.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development's Hispanic Serving Institutions Assisting Communities (HSIAC) program grant will help the community provide services for people who currently have no place to turn for assistance. The project's activities will include providing education, services and life skills training to the homeless, with the goal of reducing the homeless population and alleviating the burden on strained city, county and state resources.

Partnering with the University on this project are: the City of Turlock, We-Care Program-Turlock, United Samaritans Foundation, the Stanislaus Literacy Center, Community Housing and Shelter Services, the Stanislaus Homeless Outreach Program and the CSU Stanislaus Center for Public Policy Studies. Announcement of the grant news was made at the October 11 Turlock City Council meeting.

"We firmly believe that our students can and should be active members of the community, and this grant opens the way for them to become involved," CSU Stanislaus President Hamid Shirvani said. "California State University, Stanislaus is strongly committed to being an active partner in programs that serve community needs. I am very proud of our team of faculty and staff for their leadership and commendable service to the academy and the community."

Titled "CSU Stanislaus CARES: Community Action and Resources for Empowerment and Sustainability," the grant project will fund the creation of a multi-service resource center that is rooted in self-governance and empowerment for the area's homeless population. Project activities will include:

  • Promoting literacy in the homeless community in both spoken and written language;
  • Connecting the homeless to the community so that effective long-term solutions to the problem of homelessness in area communities can be developed;
  • Enabling the homeless to obtain identification documents required for employment and access to federal, state and local assistance systems; and
  • Developing a life skills and employment training program.

Playing a key role for CSU Stanislaus in developing the grant were Julie Fox, Coordinator of Service Learning; and faculty members Steven Filling (Accounting and Finance); Paul Sivak (Social Work); John Garcia (Social Work); and Kelvin Jasek-Rysdahl (Economics), a grant assessment and evaluation facilitator. Garcia and Jasek-Rysdahl are co-directors of the University's Center for Public Policy Studies.

Filling and Fox, co-principal investigators for securing the grant, said the project will meet a definite need in Turlock while providing an involvement opportunity for CSU Stanislaus students.

"This federally-funded project is a prime example of the power of university-community partnerships," Filling said. "Absent the counsel and enthusiastic participation of our community partners, this project would not be possible. The homeless population, the local community and CSU Stanislaus students will all benefit."

"As an integral part of this project, CSU Stanislaus students will be working side-by-side with community partners and the homeless community to solve problems, develop public policy and engage in research projects," Fox said. "We believe that this involvement enriches our students' learning experiences and also provides a unique and effective introduction to being an active member of the community."

Plans call for CSU Stanislaus faculty and students to be integrally involved in side-by-side collaborative action research projects, problem solving, grass roots organization and public policy development with the area's homeless community. The University's Office of Service Learning and the Center for Public Policy Studies are expected to take lead roles in orienting students to involvement in the project.

CSU Stanislaus students will be trained by the Stanislaus Literacy Center to make free reading and writing instruction available to the homeless population at the resource center.

"This grant will enable us to become much more proactive in our approach to homelessness," Turlock Mayor Curt Andre said. "We are very pleased that our University and community organizations have come together on this project and we look forward to working with all participants to develop effective responses to the challenges our community faces."

The United Samaritans Foundation, which has a facility oriented to feeding and assistance programs for the homeless and poor, will lease temporary space at an "at-cost" rate for the resource center while the City of Turlock renovates a permanent site nearby.

"This grant will enable us to build a stronger and more effective complement of services for our target population," said Bill Sturtevant, United Samaritans Foundation Executive Director. "We look forward to working with CSU Stanislaus and our partner agencies to assist the homeless in finding successful alternatives to life on the street."

The City of Turlock has committed personnel to assist CSU Stanislaus and the community non-profit organization that will be contracted to run the day-to-day operations of the homeless shelter and resource day center during the grant period. We-Care Program-Turlock, Community Housing and Shelter Services and the Stanislaus Homeless Outreach Program have indicated that they will contribute services and staff time to the project.

"This project will be a major step forward in our continuing efforts to craft a path out of homelessness," said Sean Byrne, Project Coordinator for the We-Care program. "We are excited to be continuing join work with University faculty and students. The dedication and involvement of our faculty partners is deeply appreciated."

Steve Filling at 209-667-3773
Julie Fox at 209-667-3311
Bill Sturtevant at 209-668-4853
Sean Byrne at 209-604-3217
Don Hansen at 209-667-3997

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