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HOPE: A dignified shelter for homeless families
Crossroads Grace Pastors Jim Todd and Jim Giannoso map out the apartment at the HOPE Family Shelter that the church will outfit for families in transition. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

Manteca could soon be known for having the nicest homeless shelter in San Joaquin County.

After nine months of extensive renovations, the HOPE Family Shelter is now nearly ready to start housing homeless families. They hosted their re-grand opening Wednesday morning before local dignitaries and building industry insiders that had a hand in converting the eight apartments in 92-year-old building into modern living spaces.

The complex itself has been out of commission for so long that shelter Executive Director Dave Thompson said his phone stopped ringing. It is because he had to tell so many people month-after-month that the renovations weren’t yet complete that they stopped calling altogether and started looking elsewhere for temporary shelter during the winter season.

He’s hoping to get the word out that the dwelling units will be livable by the first week of February.

“At first we were getting calls everyday from people asking if there was space available, but then those kind of dropped off,” Thompson said. “We’re hoping to get the word out that by Feb. 1 we’ll be open for business.”

Thompson initially turned to the City of Manteca’s Redevelopment Agency for $135,000 in funds to make emergency repairs to the aging building – which served as Manteca’s first hospital. He  soon found that city staffers have different plans for the non-profit agency that has been serving homeless families in the community for two decades.

By the time that the project began, the plans called for the entire building to be gutted down to its frame and completely rebuilt. Included were modern appliances, central heating and air conditioning and more open space included each of the seven 500 square-foot apartments that are presented on loan to homeless families for two-months at a time.

Thompson said that it carried a price tag in the neighborhood of $1 million, and will likely end up being Manteca’s last large-scale redevelopment project after the State of California pulled the plug on the discretionary funding last month to chip away at the lopsided state budget.

And once again the shelter is getting the support of the community at large as the project inches closer towards completion.

Crossroads Grace Pastors Jim Todd and Jim Giannoso were just getting started as the official festivities came to a close – trying to envision where the furniture would fit inside of the room that the church is going to outfit and supply for the family that will soon call that space home.

It’s just another way to provide outreach to those who need it, Giannoso said, and helps provide a way for families to get plugged into the community.

“We want them to know that we’re available to help – we’re here to network with them and be here when they need something and when they get ready to transition into a place of their own,” Giannoso said. “These apartments provide them a dignified place to live when they need it most.

“It’s not a handout – it’s a hand up. It’s a chance to help somebody get back on their feet – that’s what this is all about.”