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An extreme makeover for HOPE
RDA project provides homeless shelter for 55 years
Scott Paris, left, of Mid-Cal srtuctors and Eric Wohle, an architect with LDA Partners in front of the renovated homeless shelter. - photo by HIME ROMERO

It is without a doubt the classiest, if not nicest, family homeless shelter in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

The finishing touches are now being put on the $1.2 million extreme makeover of the HOPE Family  Shelter in the 500 block of West Yosemite Avenue.

The Manteca Redevelopment Agency funded project took one of Manteca’s historic structures - a 30-bed hospital built for $25,000 in 1919 at the height of the Great Flu Epidemic - and essentially turned it into a low-maintenance, energy efficient structure designed to preserve the architectural ambiance of the 1910s era. The structure served as the city’s first hospital for a brief two-year period before it was converted into apartments.

“We worked to make sure the renovation reflected the architecture of the era,” noted Eric Wohle, an architect with LDA Partners.

The direction the firm was given was simple: Keep the structure as close as possible to its original architecture, bring it up to code, make it energy efficient and low maintenance, plus make it a positive environment for homeless families that stay at the complex for two months at a time.

 “The cost of renovating probably came close to the cost it would have been to tear it down and start from scratch,” Wohle noted. “It is important, though, that a community retains (some of its different historical architectural character).”

Research prompted the installation of pillars for a grand entrance complete with a wrought iron fence.

“It (the building) was basically taken down to its skeleton,” Wohle noted.

Mid-Cal Contractors went to work bringing the structure up to code. The building had settled 6-inches in some spots. Rodents - most likely gophers - had pushed up enough dirt that it was flush with the wooden floor. Dry rot was prevalent and the roof was sagging.

When it reopens sometime in late January or early February the HOPE shelter will have eight apartments averaging about 500 square feet each including one that is handicap accessible.

“I don’t know where they put all the (30) patients,” Wohle quipped in reference to the eight apartments that are basically one-bedroom affairs with a living area and bathroom.

Mid-Cal Contractors redid electrical and wiring and installed central heat and air. There was no heating system before and each unit had window air conditioning units.

It required the modification of walls and ceiling to accommodate duct work. Wohle noted that some of the areas where the duct work was installed “is so tight you couldn’t even slip a credit card in there.”

The interior floors are tile in keeping with the low maintenance directive. While there are low water flow toilets, the actual bathroom itself has tile patterns that reflect the 1910s period plus a sink that also fits in with the style of the time.

Each unit has a new refrigerator and stove complete with kitchen cabinets. Coved ceiling have been retained to reflect the era. Fire sprinklers were also installed.

The exterior stairwells that flanked the front courtyard/patio were removed and a new staircase installed in the middle. The hospital originally had staircases inside the building.

A lifetime roof was installed using metal shingles.

A laundry room and office structure was built in the back with off-street parking added on the alley. The city also redid the sidewalk, sewer, water, and storm drain lines. The alley also is being repaved.

The second phase will include putting in place a playground area near the back of the shelter. An adjoining home also will be converted into use to house a homeless family.

The RDA investment assures that Manteca’s homeless families will have a shelter to turn to for at least the next 55 years. If there is no default under loan conditions, the amount will be forgiven after 55 years of the signing of documents. That means the building must be used as a homeless shelter for the next 55 years.

Since the doors of the shelter opened in 1992 Hope Shelters have assisted more than 2,000 families get back on their feet. HOPE Ministries also operate two other shelters.

Executive Director Dave Thompson has noted HOPE Shelters’ 60 to 65 percent success rate is due to the programs and assistance those staying there get in terms of how to better manage their finances and lives during the two months they are at the shelter.

The funds for the project are coming from the 20 percent RDA set aside the state requires be spent for affordable housing of some type.

HOPE Ministries started 19 years ago

HOPE Ministries was started 19 years ago in the former hospital at Yosemite and Sequoia avenues. 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 a year 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.

For more information or to help with donations of money or items, call 824-0658.