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Shelters plumbing on the fritz
Denham vows to get to bottom of grant delay
Congressman Jeff Denham toured the Raymus House with HOPE Ministries Executive Director Cecily Ballungay.

Volunteer board members running one of the most successful homeless family shelters in the Northern San Joaquin Valley fear ongoing plumbing issues being dealt with on a patchwork basis at the Raymus House on Union Road may fail completely forcing them to shutter the temporary housing for homeless single moms and their young children.
HOPE Ministries secured a $200,000 Community Development Block Grant to replace the plumbing. The money was supposed to have been released months ago. San Joaquin County officials that help administer the CDBG funds told the non-profit that it is being held up by the federal bureaucracy in Washington, D.C.
When Congressman Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, got wind of the situation, he promised to look into what’s delaying the funds in a bid to speed the release of the money.
Denham on Tuesday toured the former convalescent hospital  that was converted into a single mom and children homeless shelter.
“It’s impressive,” Denham said after being told HOPE Family Shelters has a success rate approaching 60 percent of families that go through the program being able to secure permeant housing and stay off the streets.
Before the HOPE Family Shelters stepped up efforts to give clients the tools needed to succeed such as having bank employees volunteer to explain budgeting and money handling skills, making sure they know how to search for jobs as well as providing counseling for various issues in addition to a roof over their heads and food for a period of three to four months, their success rate was 10 percent. That is fairly typical for most shelters.
At any given time, the non-profit’s three shelters are housing 23 families. There is a shelter at Yosemite and Sequoia avenues for intact families, single dads with kids and single moms who have teen-age sons.  The Union Road shelter is for single moms and their  daughters and boys who are not yet teens. There is also a transitional housing complex near Doctors Hospital of Manteca.
Ballungay said the three combined shelters make HOPE Family Shelters the largest in the region that doesn’t resort to dorm-style housing that splits up families.
In response to Denham’s question about the biggest issue facing the homeless in Manteca, HOPE Executive Director Cecily Ballungay said it is the lack of affordable housing.
She noted when most landlords require you make three times what the monthly rent is, working families with incomes of $2,000 or less are out of luck. Even families that make sustainably more run into road blocks.
She noted one client family where the husband with a fairly well paying job was bringing home $4,000 a month but because of credit issues in the past, his family has been unable find housing they could rent.
Ballungay said HOPE Ministries has established a strong working relation with an affordable housing group that trusts their recommendations. That group works to find landlords that are open to renting to struggling families as long as they have assurance they will pay their rent and take care of rental property.
HOPE Family Shelters  served over 70 homeless families last year including 293 individuals of which 213 were children.
The non-profit has a $260,000 annual operating budget of which 20 percent comes from government sources. The balance is derived from private sector grants and donations.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email