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Homeless expert: It won’t be easy for displaced residents to find housing

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POSTED February 12, 2013 12:50 a.m.

More than 50 people call Sleepy Hollow Mobile Home Park home.

So what would happen if all of a sudden those that have found shelter in the battered and weather-beaten units were forced out to fend for themselves?

According to HOPE Family Shelter Executive Director Dave Thompson, they’d more than likely overload an already overburdened system and discover that affordable housing in Manteca – and the South County in general – is about as easy to find as a gold nugget in the middle of the street.

“It would be really hard for them to find something because there isn’t much in terms of housing right now,” he said. “And these are people that probably don’t have deposits – the firsts and lasts that apartments and landlords like to see – and that makes getting into a place very difficult. It makes it a stressful situation.”

While options exist for low-income residents and those on a fixed-income – those on public assistance can use a one-time perk that will get them into housing but they’ll be forced to cover the rent from then on – others often take months to qualify for and require extensive red tape to navigate.

Section 8 housing is a possibility for some, Thompson said, but it often has a long waiting list and is uneasy for some to steer through. Shelters can be difficult because of restrictions and the sheer number of people trying to get in, and government assistance agencies are taxed.

Even those that are lucky enough to land a spot in the recently refurbished HOPE Family shelter that Thompson oversees have been having trouble landing upright – and they get two months to save up for a place and learn the ins-and-outs of the process.

“There are a lot of people that are looking out there, and it’s something that’s happening not only here but all over the country,” he said. “Jobs are hard to find and that makes it hard for people who find themselves in situations like this to get back on their feet.”

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