Hundreds of families – including single moms with children – have been kept from living permanently on the streets since the HOPE Family Shelters first opened 19 years ago.
The organization founded by the Manteca Ministerial Association has helped almost 4,000 people. HOPE Family Shelter enjoys a 75 percent success rate. That means after the two-month period during which time they can get their finances in order while living rent-free and learning about managing money, they do not return to a homeless situation again.
The non-profit, which relies primarily on private sector donations to cover costs, is running short of money. They are now $15,000 behind budget with that number growing. It costs $150,000 a year to operate three shelters.
“Just like any other non-profit we’re struggling to raise funds,” said HOPE Executive Director Dave Thompson. “Things are tough out there.”
HOPE Family Shelters is conducting a wine tasting at Delicato Vineyards at Highway 99 and French Camp Road on Friday, Sept. 30, to raise funds. It runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 apiece and must be purchased in advance. For tickets contact Bob Raymus at 824-3080 or Dave Thompson at 824-0658.
Thompson said the board, if additional funds aren’t secured soon, will have to cut services down to the barebones. That means much of the counseling that has been effective in keeping the majority of homeless returning to the street could be cut.
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.
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.
The original family shelter built in 1917 that once served as Manteca’s first hospital at Yosemite and Sequoia avenues won’t re-open until at least October. It is undergoing upgrades and renovation. That leaves HOPE Family Shelters with just the Raymus House on Union Road where 13 single moms and their children can stay at any one time for up to two months. They also have eight transitional homes for eight families that they can use for up to two years.
When the remodeling is done there will be eight apartments for the homeless or one more than when work started.
An appeal is being made to the community to help HOPE furnish the apartments. Much of the older furniture was on its last legs and was disposed of as part of the renovation.