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Approach of cold weather poses challenges for homeless
A homeless man bundled up next to a wall in a partially demolished downtown Manteca building last winter. - photo by Bulletin file photo

Maggie Guzman isn’t in any immediate threat of losing the roof over of her head.

For the past two years she has been sleeping on her sister’s couch rent free. She spends most of her days going around town on her bicycle looking for recyclables to allow her to pitch in when she can.

The unusually warm fall weather expected to come to an abrupt end by Friday with the overnight low expected to dip to 39 degrees. Some forecasters are predicting rain and a high that won’t even top 60 degrees. Guzman isn’t looking forward to the days she’ll be spending outdoors while her sister is at work.

“I’ve been trying to look for a job but there aren’t any out there right now,” Guzman said. “I’d like to be able to get into a place of my own – somewhere that I can stay during the day. The cold isn’t quite that bad when you can bundle up, but when you’re cold and wet it’s the worst.”

Temperatures have hovered in the mid-70s for over a month and have made outdoor spaces like Library Park a popular gathering spot for families as well as a place for people who have very few other options to pass the time – as well as the hardcore homeless.

With several friends in town that will offer a place to crash, John – who asked that his last name not be used – isn’t immediately worried about the cold front that will be moving through the area this weekend.

Truth be told, he said, he’d rather have to throw on a sweater and a jacket than to find a place to cool down during the scorching summer months. And he knows enough people in town to find a place to ride out a rainstorm.

“The weather is kind of an occupational hazard,” he said with a laugh. “You learn to live with it and deal with it and adjust. You don’t have any other option.”

The one down-and-out group that might be hurting the most – homeless families – aren’t likely to see any big relief in the near future.

With a complete overhaul of the HOPE Family Shelter still under way, the handful of parents that use the two free months that the organization gives them to get a steady foundation underneath themselves are being forced to turn elsewhere – possibly even splitting family members up until a situation presents itself.

And now that California guidelines prohibit organizations like HOPE Ministries from keeping a waiting list for spaces as they become available at the still open Raymus House, it becomes a call and wait game for mothers and their children.

HOPE Ministries staffers are hoping to have the renovated complex up and running before winter hits. Unlike Raymus House on Union Road – which only houses mothers and their children – the site allows for full families to live together.