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HOPE given new lease on life
Grand re-opening set for Wednesday
The apartments of the renovated HOPE Family Shelter will reopen to homeless families later this month. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Eight families will soon christen the renovated HOPE Family Shelter as they begin an odyssey to rebuild their lives.

The $1.2 million extreme makeover from foundation to roof of the 1919 building that served as Manteca’s first hospital into an inviting, energy-efficient apartment complex for the homeless is being celebrated Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 10:30 a.m.

HOPE Ministries - that launched its family shelter outreach in the former hospital building at Yosemite and Sequoia avenues 20 years ago - is conducting the grand re-opening.

Executive Director Dave Thompson noted that within several weeks homeless families again will be staying at the HOPE Shelter for two-month increments as they work on getting their finances in order and saving deposits needed for rental homes.

“Several church groups and other organizations are going to furnish and decorate the apartments to get them ready for families,” Thompson said. “We expected that to be done in a week or so.”

Thompson - who is used to having to turn down families needing shelter when available space at the organization’s two main shelters are full - said it was especially hard the past few months to do so.

While it was tough to take the shelter out of use for part of the winter, Thompson noted that the project essentially assures there will be useable emergency shelter for families in Manteca for at least the next 55 years.

The $1.2 million project may be the last of its kind that the city can pull off. Action by the California Legislature that was ruled constitutional by the state’s highest court is set to kill off redevelopment agencies up and down the state by May 1. That means affordable housing programs that were required to constitute 20 percent of all RDA spending will no longer be possible to pursue.

The initial purchase of the complex for a family shelter nearly two decades ago was made possible by RDA assistance. If the agency didn’t help, there would likely be no homeless shelter in Manteca today. The entire tab for the makeover was funded with RDA money.

The two-story structure was opened in 1919 as a 30-bed hospital. It cost $25,000 to build. The structure was not only brought up to code but was renovated to reflect the architecture of the late 1910s. It also had central heat and air installed as well as other efficiencies such as a metal roof to keep maintenance costs down.

The eight apartments average about 500 square feet each including one that is handicap accessible.

Families stay for a maximum of two months of free rent. Many of their basic needs are provided so they can save money to secure a place of their own. They are also taught how to manage their money. Many of the homeless are actually still working. Either one spouse has lost their job or had hours reduced. Their biggest obstacle to securing a home is coming up with the down payment to rent an apartment or a small house

HOPE has almost a 75 percent success rate. That means that three-quarters of the people they have helped since opening 20 years ago - or about 3,000 of the 4,000 that includes children - have ended up being able to stay in rental housing.

More than 60 percent of the $150,000 needed to run the shelters each year comes from the private sector with the rest through federal and state grants. Included in that private sector support are monthly contributions from 16 churches.

Thompson has noted many of the homeless families sleep on couches and floors in friends’ houses for a few days and move on before they get the tenant in trouble. Some sleep in garages while others stay in a motel for a few days and then go back out on the street to live out of vehicles until they get enough money to get a motel room. Still others will camp at nearby parks and even along the river.

Manteca Unified School District has indicated that 700 of its 23,000 students at any given time can be classified as homeless.

For more information or to offer assistance call Thompson at 824-6058.