Visalia/Tulare

Tulare to explore building homeless shelter, converting hotels for housing

As has become a growing tradition nearly every other meeting, the Tulare City Council discussed the city’s efforts to curb homelessness during its Tuesday evening meeting.

On tap in the near future is the possibility of the city constructing a homeless shelter.

City Manager Marc Mondell said his staff is working on a memorandum for the council for a new shelter, including possible costs and locations.

Mondell said his goal is to have the council consider the different possibilities within the next 60 days, and noted that the city has set aside $2 million for the project.

“There’s a lot of different parts and pieces and other agencies that would have to be involved, so we’re trying to take this sort of as a systematic approach as we work through this, because there’s a lot of emotion involved in the issue,” Mondell said.

“And I want to make sure we’re going to be focussing on getting the facts correct before we get too much into the emotions.”

The latest point-in-time count of Tulare’s homelessness population – conducted by the Kings/Tulare Homeless Alliance in 2020 – the city is dealing with over 200 unhoused individuals, which marked a 21 percent increase from the year before and a 160 percent increase since 2011.

Homeless rates statewide have climbed since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Along with the possibility of building a homeless shelter, the council discussed the option of following in the footsteps of other Central Valley cities and purchasing hotels to convert into shelters.

“I think we need to approach this from all aspects, not only a shelter that the city funds and not runs but works in partnership,” Councilman Jose Sigala said. “But if there’s money out there, why are we not pursuing it?”

In response, Mondell said his staff is also preparing a report detailing the pros and cons of purchasing a hotel to go along with the exploration of constructing a homeless shelter, which should also be presented within the next couple months. 

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.