Lander Businesses Say Homeless Encampment Driving Away Customers

Jonathan McCorkell/

Several businesses and homeowners in the 900 block of Lander Avenue and immediate area are fed up with what they deem to be an on-going homeless encampment behind their establishments and property.

Jalos Auto Sales, Ruiz Tire Shop, along with Rita’s Hair Salon, and a national chain restaurant all have store fronts that face Lander Avenue, but behind them is the dead-end of Eighth Street, which butts up against Lander.

Across Lander is Salvation Army Turlock.

All of the businesses say they are fed up with the encampment, which can include anywhere from 20 to more than 40 homeless people every single day.

Overnight the vast majority of the homeless people will stay in the Salvation Army parking lot, where they are welcome to do so. But in the morning hours they literally migrate across Lander Avenue and set up their village — linking together dozens of shopping carts and makeshift shelters.

Barbara Collins, a shift supervisor at the chain restaurant, says the homeless people will leave human feces behind the businesses back door (which this reporter witnessed directly), allegedly harass employees and customers, come into the establishment allegedly intoxicated or high on drugs and have allegedly even damaged the store front. On regular occurrences the homeless will use the business’ exterior water sources to wash themselves, naked.

“It’s not safe. There have been incidents where they have threatened to shoot our employees and customers,” said Collins. “We’ve been here for three years and it’s never been this bad as it has been in the past 6 or 8 months. We’ve called the police at least three times but they have their hands tied. What will it take until someone does something? Do we have to wait until someone gets attacked? No one will help us. Why should I have to go to social media before the city will do something about this?”

Collin’s is not alone in her concerns. Rita Gonzalez, the owner of Rita’s Hair Salon, says the homeless people have scared small children who come into her Salon for haircuts and says her business is the slowest its been since it opened 14 years ago.

Gonzalez also owns a house on the other side of Eighth Street and says she has been trying to sell it, but when potential buyers come to look at it they are immediately scared off by the homeless village.

“I can’t sell my house because of them,” said Gonzalez. “I’ve had to spend $2,000 to put up a fence to keep the homeless out of the house as it was being remodeled.

“The homeless camp has been there for about 8 months and we’ve called the police three times but nothing happens.”

Ray Jalo, the owner of Jalo Auto Sales and Ruiz Tire Shop says he will come to work in the morning and homeless people will be washing his cars and mopping the concrete walkway to the storefront, and then expect some sort of payment for their unsolicited efforts.

He says they will also use an exterior tire bath container to wash themselves, as well as exterior electrical outlets to charge their cell phones.

“They’ve used a lot of water and electricity that I have to pay for,” said Jalos. “Really, I think a lot of them are crazy in the head, they need to be in a hospital, not out on the streets. Everyday there are more and more coming. I’ve never seen it this bad.”

Jalos also says he has contacted police to no avail.

After being contacted by, the Turlock Police Department and the City of Turlock Neighborhood Services, which is under the Turlock Fire Department, are now in collaboration to help resolve the issues these businesses are facing.

Turlock Fire Chief Tim Lohman says Neighborhood Services is well aware of the situation the businesses are facing.

“It’s similar to one year ago, to the problems business owners Downtown had at Denair Park,” said Lohman. “We understand their plight and concerns and we are working with Turlock PD to what strategies we can use.”

Legally, the homeless people’s property cannot be taken unless given a 7-day notice. However, the homeless will work the system and leave and come back after the notice expires.

Lohman says that one of the strategies they have begun to implement to move the homeless village is to issue trespassing warnings.

Another officer with Neighborhood Services, who did not want to be identified, said that often many of the homeless will have warrants and that in the past officials have used those warrants to help thin out the numbers of homeless. will follow up in the coming weeks to make sure the business owners are content with the efforts of the City of Turlock to address their concerns.

Comments 26

  1. Build it and they will come says:

    The Salvation Army lets them camp there at night. They must have to be packed up by about 630 700 am at which time they move all their tents and carts across the street. There has been at times 20 plus tents in the parking lots and door ways. They must have a very organized system because the same people are always camped out in the prime spots.

  2. This is why we are moving says:

    This homeless problem is what has prompted us to move from this town. It’s completely out of control. Can’t even go to Raley’s without crack mommas asking for “spare change” or some nutcase approaching you like a fast zombie at the gas station. We even got our CCWs because of them. Some of them threaten you if you refuse to give them money. Tired of people defending these bums and saying we should help them. They are not good people and they are where they are by their own doing. Don’t “help” them anymore, send them to the edge of town by the freeway and tell them they’ll be arrested if they don’t keep their camps there and actually do it if they disobey. So long Turlock!

  3. Lifetime resident says:

    If you feed them they will come! I know people mean well but all these places like gospel mission, Salvation Army etc do nothing but attract these people from outside of Turlock. They all hear that Turlock will accommodate them so the migration began. Now it’s out of control!!! I would be surprised if more than 2-3 of them are actually from Turlock! They are everywhere! Tweaking, drinking and panhandling!!! Enough already!!!! Lets get Turlock back!!

  4. nonsense says:

    Thank you Gospel Mission.

  5. Lori says:

    This problem Is because of the Mager at the Salvation Army. She has granted the homeless people permission to camp out in the parking lotion the SA. If there is lost business it is because of this one individual. Business owners should file a law suit against her for lost revenue. Being she is the person whim allowed this to happen.

  6. Amber Smith says:

    I wanted to donate some items in the small donation box at the Salvation Army. It was surrounded by homeless people. I saw other large bags by the big donation trailer and they had been torn open and the contents scattered. I didn’t drop off my donation because I feared they may dig it out and steal it too. There were dogs running around the parking lot too.

  7. Senior Citizens says:

    There is a building for senior citizens to live in right behind the Salvation Army. The homeless people are camped in their parking lot at night and on the weekends. I know someone who lives there. Some of them are afraid to leave the building after dark because the homeless fight and smoke drugs and often times their dogs are running around loose. It gets dark early now so they feel trapped inside their home. The problem just moves across the street during the day time.

  8. Not funny says:

    I completely agree with Guest-This is why we are moving!! This town has gotten out of control and something needs to be done!!!

  9. Jim Dandy says:

    I honestly don’t know how dollar general stays in business with all the riff raft. I know I hate to drive down lander because you have to dodge the bikes and shopping carts. I will not trade at stores there even the stop and shop on Linwood and Lander has people hanging out at night asking for money and they hang in the park across the street. I will not let my grandson walk to school for that reason. I feel sorry for the Pizza Hut and Beauty shop there it is gross so many carts parked everyplace. They just leave there crap everyplace

  10. isabel colston says:

    As part of the homeless we need a donation of property! This would contain your cocerns about the stores having whatev,r problems the are having. A donated spot wil give us another place we can camp instead of us takin space at salvation army and being a nuesance to the store owners. Mayb if some would stop stereotypin we can solve some of these problems with the understanding that we

  11. Dear isabel colston says:

    If your homeless, how are you able to access the internet without a phone or a computer?

  12. Tired of this nonsense. says:

    Free internet at the Mission to better themselves, but they are surfing D.J’s site just like me…but I work and pay for my services.
    Did the Salvation Army get the approval from the City of Turlock to allow campers. Do they provide restroom facilities? Because this city tells when how and where. wipe.

  13. Dear Tired of this Nonsense says:

    The Salvation Army owns the parking lot that the homeless sleep in at night. There is a port-a-potty there. It is used for people to have sex in, do drugs in, and make drug deals in.
    I’m glad the homeless woman – Isabel – admitted that they are a nuisance. They certainly are! They choose to be in that situation most of the time. They choose to do the drugs that get them fired from their jobs that then keeps them from paying their rent, that makes them disturb the peace and get evicted, therefore making it difficult for them to find a job and housing again. They choose to be a nuisance. They can be homeless and NOT disturb the peace, NOT take a crap in parking lots and bushes, NOT steal power and water from local businesses, NOT destroy property at The Salvation Army (who so generously let’s them stay there at night), NOT leave their trash around, and NOT rummage through garbage cans leaving messes behind. They can be polite to others and NOT use foul language. But they choose not to do these things. The majority of the homeless are like this. It is not “stereotyping”. There are the older homeless that have been on the streets for many years and are in the 60’s on up. They usually don’t do any of those things. They keep a low profile and try not to disturb others or draw attention to themselves. The “new generation” of homeless people have no respect for themselves or anyone else. It’s a sad and sickening situation. Why should the City give them property to stay on? They’ll just trash it because of their lack of respect. They aren’t “entitled” to anything. They need to clean themselves up and turn themselves around.

  14. john mitchell says:

    Thank you TCN for spotlighting this…this entire town is under siege by the criminal transients who run the streets. These people are not down-and-outers, they are drug users, drug dealers, thieves, etc. and will never be rehabilitated by the Gospel Mission or anyone else. The services they provide only worsen the situation for all the honest law abiding citizens. I had a cop flat out tell me last month that Modesto, Stockton and other cities are giving their homeless (i.e. criminals, jail birds,etc) the address to the Gospel Mission AND in many cases bus fare to Turlock!!! He also said that when they’re at the center they’re still dealing, using and looking up porn on the computers. Nice. I feel for Barbara Collins, Rita Gonzales and the other business is the same thing on Main Street. Ever seen all the drug deals, loitering, camping, graffiti, littering that takes at the planter near the Jack in the Box? They disturb businesses and customers all day long, every day. They pee on the benches and worse. The downtown assoc and the neighborhood services don’t care–there’s been graffiti on that planter for months. Just yesterday there was a fire started in a dumpster behind Bistro by one of the criminal transients. And Denair Park is back to what it was. They’re everywhere-east side, west side, and it’s not getting better–they’re all coming here for the free hand outs. What will it take to run these a**h*les out of town?

  15. Citizen says:

    What about the stolen shopping carts they are pushing. Can’t the Police arrest them for theft?

  16. Erika Vilchiz says:

    Hello i have a uncle that lives in silvercrest home, and he goes for walks every morning n know stays in because his scare at night he has hard time sleeping because of the noise….what do we tell our kids when they ask why do they live like this….can the city pick a park for them away from bussinisess and school….what is wrong with police or the city council or what can we do is a every morning thing we wake up to the same thing.. i bet that if the goverment would get strict no more u will see they want help food stamps cant they get them into a rehab there is plenty of shelters but they don’t go cause there is rules…why do we that pay bill, taxes n do everything the way we should have to pay for this they go and dig in our trashes leaving a mess..

  17. Erika Vilchiz says:

    So true last month a lady walked up to us and asked us for money for her kids that were home alone hungry but u could see it in her face she was on something so my husband told her come on in to little cesars grave some pizza i will pay for them take to ur kids….this lady had a fit and started screaming at him give me the fn money i dont want ur stupid pizza….

  18. LB says:

    Anyone with a bleeding heart and sympathy for these “homeless” should do us all a favor and invite them on over to your place. Or let’s move the homeless shelters into the Peacock Estates or Dennis Earl areas of town and see how quickly things change. If you don’t like these ideas then maybe it’s time to allow the police start enforcing some vagrancy, loitering, public nuisance laws. Ship these people back to whatever city or hospital they came from.

  19. the truth says:

    They are here because the cops allow it not because their hands are tied or handcuffed its amazing how the cops just got a raise but they don’t do their job and yea more showing up here from outta town where it’s not allowed and yea the shelters have rules that apparently they don’t want to abide by you never here of a homeless person getting arrested for possession of methamphetamine

  20. bob says:

    Hand grenade

  21. crimes are being committed says:

    so many shopping cart tickets to pass out.lots of money for the city cameras can catch ones who illegally leave human waste for indecent exposure .signs also help work like no trespassing after business hours.

  22. concerend says:

    I would like to coment on behave of the homeless what makes these ppl tell such false information on the homeless if what they are saying is true where is the pix of the homeless taking a bath naked and the turlock police go down lander ave every morning why have they not seen this active

  23. Tired of the nonsense says:

    Please don’t rag on the T.P.D. Blame this city council for having their priorities screwed up.
    Blame Jerry Brown for providing the revolving door for these criminals.
    Blame it on all the well meaning people of this town that are encouraging them to come and then stay in our town.
    T.P.D is understaffed, they do not have time to be chasing these bums just to have the jail kick them free.
    P.S. I have no connection what so ever to T.P.D. The problem is fault of the city council and the city manager.

  24. Tired of this nonsense says:

    I suggest that these merchants purchase several bags of manure and spread it around where these please hang out during the day.
    Maybe you could also encourage them to hang out in front of the Mayors real estate ( M&M) office on Main Street and urinate on his car tires.

  25. correction says:

    I suggest that these merchants purchase several bags of manure and spread it around where these PEOPLE hang out during the day.

  26. TO Isabel Colston says:

    You and your criminal relative Jonathan need to get jobs, get off the meth and quit digging in the trash cans, save your money, like the rest of us responsible people do, and rent your own places or build your own tiny homes out on vacant property. We don’t have to donate anything to you people, and fewer and fewer will continue to “help” you out if you guys keep up the nasty attitudes most of you have. Bunch of gawdam ingrates…

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