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Giving Manteca homeless HOPE

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Giving Manteca homeless HOPE

HOPE Ministries Executive Director Dave Thompson outside of the Raymus House.

DENNIS WYATT/Bulletin file photo


POSTED February 4, 2014 1:51 a.m.

Dave Thompson’s phone rings a lot.

For most people that’s a good thing. But Thompson is the de facto local expert on homelessness in the South County. His day-to-day consists of making sure that the families and single mothers that find solace in the shelters that he oversees are taking the steps necessary to succeed once they leave.

The only have two months. And every day he has to tell the 15 to 20 people that call that both the HOPE Family Shelter and the Raymus House are full. He politely tells them to keep calling back until there’s an opening, and hangs up.

Getting discouraged about the number of times he has to say no would be counterproductive to the overall mission, but there’s still that part of him that wishes there could be enough beds and enough rooms and enough meals to help all of those that have fallen on hard times.

“We’re only licensed to provide space to families and single women with children, so the single men and single women have to go to Stockton if they’re going to find a shelter,” Thompson said. “I wish we could open a shelter here that would be able to cater to them. I think that the best place for them to be at night is in a shelter instead of wandering around town pushing a shopping cart or whatever it is that people see.

“I think it would eliminate a lot of the issues, whether they’re doing anything wrong or not. There’s this perception that they are and that’s what people see, and providing them a place would be beneficial.”

For years, Thompson, a retired Manteca Police sergeant, has been a vocal champion for the homeless.

He has, in the past, spoken out about how people that are living paycheck-to-paycheck are simply a layoff away from being homeless themselves, and a lot of the stories that he hears from those that call fit that sort of model.

So a two-month reprieve that takes away the worry about which couch or which relative or which parking lot will be home for that particular night can be, Thompson said, invaluable to somebody looking to get back on their feet.

Those lucky enough to secure a spot can move into transitional living apartments where they pay rent on a sliding scale, and others take advantage of the Central Valley low-income housing project and its outreach efforts.

He says that HOPE Ministries is lucky to be located in a community that cares.

When California hit the financial skids, the organization lost all of its state funding and saw its federal funding shrink significantly.

It’s the people, Thompson said, that have stepped up to make the difference. Some send checks every month. Others organize fundraisers or do whatever they can to help offset the costs that come with running three homeless outreach programs.

Because even though the economy might be on the rebound, Thompson said that the number of people he sees filtering through the doors don’t necessarily reflect that.

“I haven’t noticed any appreciable reduction in the number of calls that we’ve gotten,” he said. “The demand has been pretty steady for the last couple of years.”

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