HOW YOU CAN HELP
• KIDS IN A BOX: Kids collect pledges and spend the night sleeping in decorated boxes on the evening of Friday, May 20, on the grounds of the Raymus Home on South Union Road. For more information call HOPE Family Shelter Executive Director Dave Thompson at 824-6058.
It’s been a tough month for Dave Thompson.
He’s having to say “no” more often.
Then again he knows that come October not only will he be able to say “yes” more but that at least part of a private sector safety net to help the homeless get back on their feet will be in place for another 55 years.
Thompson is executive director of HOPE Ministries that operates three family homeless shelters including the two-story building at 528 W. Yosemite Avenue. It originally opened in 1917 as Manteca’s first hospital during the Great Flu Epidemic.
“It’s tough to tell people we don’t have space for them,” Thompson said of the renovation. “But the work is something that has to be done.”
The shelter has been vacant for the past month while crews perform $1.2 million in upgrades and renovations plus convert an adjoining house into additional family shelter space.
It is being done using a $1.2 million Manteca Redevelopment Agency loan that is part of the state-mandated 20 percent set aside of RDA taxes for affordable housing. The loan will be forgiven only if a family shelter is operated through 2066 at the apartment complex where it has been located for the past 18 years.
The shelter was in disrepair with structural issues and antiquated electrical wiring, plumbing, and was far from energy efficient. Part of the RDA loan was the requirement that the historical architectural be preserved making it one of the first buildings in Manteca to get such protection.
The renovations also converting the on-site office back to an apartment so there will be eight units available instead of seven previously. The house to the east is also being converted into a shelter.
The Yosemite Avenue location is for homeless families while there is room for up to 13 single moms and their children at the Raymus House.
In both of the shelters, 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 19 years ago - or about 3,000 of the 4,000 that includes children - have ended up being able to stay in rental housing.
HOPE also operates eight transition units where families live up to two years before going out on their own.
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.
“If it wasn’t for the community’s support the HOPE shelters wouldn’t be here for families when they need help,” Thompson said.
Kids in a Box is this Friday
HOPE Ministries is conducting their annual Kids in a Box fundraisers on Friday, May 20, at the Raymus House single mother’s shelter at 520 S. Union Road. Youth between the ages 8 to 18 can participate by spending the night on cardboard boxes with adult supervision on the grounds of Raymus House. Participants are asked to collect pledges although that is not the main objective.
Thompson has noted it is important that young people understand what some of their peers are up against day-to-day. Manteca Unified officials indicated some 700 students are homeless. While they may not be living on the streets - although some do on a temporary basis - most live in motels, campsites, couches of friends, in garages, and other non-traditional places.
The next fundraiser is a summer social on June 16.
For more information call Thompson at 824-6058.