Those seeking to buy affordable homes aren’t the only ones coming to Manteca from the Bay Area.
So are families hard hit by rents in cities such as Livermore where one bedroom apartments — if you can find one — start at $1,600 a month.
“We’re getting calls from families every week forced from the Bay Area because they can’t afford the housing,” HOPE Family Shelters Executive Director Cecily Ballungay told Manteca Rotarians during their Thursday lunch meeting at Ernie’s Rendezvous Room.
The exodus from west of the Altamont Pass driven by high rents started reaching down into the lower levels of the working class in the past several years. Families forced out of homes or apartments by increasing rents turn to the same place many homebuyers do — the Northern San Joaquin Valley. Sometimes they find that what is available here isn’t affordable either.
It adds to the ranks of homeless families as well as single parents with children that HOPE Family Shelters — launched by the Greater Manteca Ministerial Association in 1993 — works diligently to help when they can.
“We are getting 10 calls a day on average,” Ballungay said.
During the past year HOPE has helped not just shelter 212 individuals from a total of72 families but also provide counseling services, assistance in job searches for those not employed, and securing housing they can afford at the end of stays that typically run 30 to 90 days and — under certain conditions — up to 120 days.
The three shelters HOPE operates are:
HOPE Family Shelter at Yosemite and Sequoia avenues for families and single parents with boys 12 and older.
Raymus House on Union Road for single moms with children (excluding boys 12 and older).
Transitional housing on North Street near Doctors Hospital of Manteca where families can stay up to two years.
The non-profit operates on a $217,000 annual budget of which almost all comes from donations and private sector grants. There are there employees.
HOPE Family Shelters — thanks to growing community support — has been able to expand their services in the past year to help reduce recidivism among the non-profit’s clients.
The expanded services cover:
Project Hope that employees a client services director for case management and life issue screening, and referral services for mental health, domestic violence, and legal assistance.
uHope for a Brighter Future that provides workshops on how to deal with toxic relationships, parenting classes, and bad habits.
Children of Hope that provides mental health screening and assistance to children impacted by being homeless.
Hope for Mental Health that provides group and individual counselling services by an on-site marriage and family therapist.
That is in addition to efforts that existed already to help family’s budget better, stay drug free, and search for a job if they’re unemployed.
Ballungay noted that many who are homeless have jobs. They have either been hit with reduced hours or have had unexpected expenses such as medical costs.
“Studies show that most of us are two paychecks or so away from being homeless,” Ballungay told the Rotarians.
HOPE provides a pantry for families at HOPE Family Shelter to pick up food from and provides three meals a day for the mothers and children at Raymus House. That— along with not paying rent — helps families save up for deposits and first month rent that tends to be one of the biggest obstacles for them to secure housing on their own.
Ballungay said HOPE Family Shelters’ biggest needs are:
Covering the cost of drug tests, child care (so parents can attend counseling and workshops), and increased staff time.
The upkeep of facilities such as lawns, bed bug mattress covers, and minor repairs.
Expanding its donor base to supplement fundraisers such as the Texas Road House/Poker event, the donor dinner, wine social, and Kids in a Box.
The organization’s website is www.hopefamilyshelters.org.