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Manteca’s homeless: Full-time workers

Foreclosures change the face of city’s homeless families

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Manteca’s homeless: Full-time workers

Dave Thompson, chief executive officer of the HOPE Ministries, is shown outside the Raymus House.

DENNIS WYATT/The Bulletin /


POSTED April 7, 2009 4:38 a.m.
The typical Manteca homeless family helped by HOPE Ministries isn’t battling substance abuse or living off the system. They are clean and gainfully employed.

Often times, they are working 40 hours a week pulling down between $9 and $11 an hour.

So why are they homeless?

The No. 1 reason are families who get kicked out because homes they were renting have gone into foreclosure. In such cases they don’t get their deposit back.

To rent a decent two-bedroom apartment in Manteca they can afford that costs $750 to $800, they need to come up with $1,500 to $1700 upfront. It’s the kind of money they simply can’t produce overnight making $11 an hour with a three to four member household.

They typically end up going to a low-end motel where they can rent a room for $350 a week because they don’t need to put down a deposit.

“They can barely make ends meet that way,” noted HOPE Family Shelter Executive Director Dave Thompson. He pointed, ironically, that the cost of a low-end motel is more than the monthly rent for most apartments and a growing number of homes.

That’s where the HOPE Shelters come into play. Families – when they can get in – have two months of rent free living. During that time, a vast majority of families cobble together the money and get a place of their own. It is a success rate underscored by the fact 80 percent-plus of the shelter’s clients end up finding a place they can afford to rent and end up no longer being homeless.

“People have a habit of looking at people as a class and not as individuals,” Thompson said.

Thompson said the homeless in Manteca typically aren’t on the streets looking for handouts or are on drugs or have a drinking problem. They usually are working families that got caught in a situation where they needed to move only to find out they can get needed deposits back due to the foreclosure mess.

Thompson noted that lumping people together by class is something he’s familiar with. During his career as a Manteca Police officer, he was not viewed as an individual but was tossed in with “the entire class.”

“If some cop got in their face in Chicago they equated all cops were like that,” Thompson said. “The same is true of how people view the homeless.”

HOPE Ministries started 18 years ago

HOPE Ministries was started 18 years ago. The original family shelter at Yosemite and Sequoia in the original Manteca Hospital building that was later converted into an apartment complex later accommodates six families. The Raymus House – a former rest home on South Union Road that the Raymus family rents to HOPE Ministries for $1 a year – accommodates nine single moms and their children. There is also a six-unit transitional housing complex near Doctors Hospital where families can stay up to two years and pay 30 percent of their income in rent.

The three shelters served 108 families last year that included 226 children. The shelter doesn’t keep a “waiting list” per se but they do field 20 to 40 calls a day from people looking for shelter.

HOPE Ministries is getting by with $150,000 although they budgeted $168,000 to operate the three shelters. They cut back on staff and some assistance programs for clients. They also pared back external efforts such as providing emergency food for the needy or helping with part of a month’s rent payment when a family incurs an emergency expense so it can help avoid them from becoming homeless.

The state cut funding back to zero but in an ironic twist the federal government increased some of its funding since San Joaquin County has been hit so hard by foreclosures. As a result, just under $50,000 comes from emergency grants to help the homeless that also includes $7,600 in pass through federal government Community Block Grant funds divided up by the Manteca City Council.

The remaining $100,000 comes from individuals, churches and businesses in Manteca.

Thompson said there are times that it can be frustrating but there are moments that put everything in perspective and makes everything worthwhile.

“Once in awhile we’ll get a letter with a check from someone we helped four and five years ago and who has gotten back on their feet,” Thompson said. “They’ll say it isn’t much but it is what they can spare as they wanted to give back to help others.”

Poker night event plus Kids in Box coming up

To help raise money for the shelter, a poker tournament complete with food, prizes and a no-host bar takes place Saturday, April 25, from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Bank of Stockton, 660 N. Main St. First prize is a poker table valued at $500 while second prize is two A’s tickets behind home plate plus all you can eat and parking valued at $300. There are seven additional prizes.

The cost is $50 per player.

For information or tickets contact Bob Raymus, 470-1093; Nancy Wright, 612-1524; Marla Corfiatis, 612-6483; or Dave Thompson at 824-0658.

The annual Kids in the Box fund raiser is Friday, May 15.

It involves youth collecting pledges and spending the night sleeping in boxes on the grounds of the Raymus House.

The adult-supervised event involves kids decorating the boxes as well.
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