Women who are homeless, disabled or elderly and living on a fixed income will have a new place to call home at the Tracy House opening on Oct. 1.
The home is a joint venture by the Tracy Community Connections Center and the Coalition of Tracy Citizens to Assist the Homeless to provide permanent, affordable housing with optional supportive and counseling services to women in need.
Melinda Ramirez, operation coordinator at Tracy Community Connections Center, said it is not a transitional home.
“Pretty much any woman that is on extremely low income or fixed income can apply to come in and they can stay forever if they like,” Ramirez said. “This place can be used as a stepping-stone towards longer-term goals or independence or it can be forever.”
She said there are shelters for women who are the victims of domestic violence, women with children, transition homes for single men and families with children, but there was nothing for very low income or disabled women.
“If you’re in Tracy and on social security and you don’t have family to live with, well you just can’t live here. You can’t stay here,” Ramirez said.
“We have come across a lot of women over the years doing case management who are grandmothers, people whose husbands passed away, or they are living with their adult children on the couch and they are miserable but they don’t want to leave Tracy because they have been here their whole lives.”
Tracy House changes that. The home is based on the Rochester House run by the Coalition of Tracy Citizens to Assist the Homeless that has been in Tracy for several years.
“This has been a goal of mine to open one of these homes for women for several years,” Ramirez said.
The San Joaquin Continuum of Care 2019 Point in Time count identified 155 homeless people in Tracy of which 35% were women and 25% of them were seniors.
Ramirez made a similar proposal last year to her organization but they weren’t in the position to act on it.
A couple of months ago the owner of the property used by the Rochester House said they had another property available and offered it to use as the women’s house. Work began about three months ago to get it ready.
The home is on Tracy Boulevard near Sutter Tracy Community Hospital and the center along with the coalition signed a five-year lease for it.
Women who will live in the four-bedroom home pay a flat rate $700 a month that covers all of their needs, including rent, food, utilities, cable, Wi-Fi and optional case management services.
“The goal is to make it more like a family than a facility,” Ramirez said. “They all pitch in to run their own home. The difference between this and let’s say a bunch of roommates is the supportive services. Most of these women are chronically homeless. The best results are when the go into permanent supportive housing. Otherwise they lose that stability.”
The home will accommodate up to 12 women with one of them serving as the resident manager running the house day-to-day and making sure chores are done by the other women.
The Coalition of Tracy Citizens to Assist the Homeless supplied the up-front costs for the Tracy House, and those costs will be repaid eventually. Ramirez expects Tracy House to have its first eight residents by April, and soon it should be able to generate enough funds to be self sufficient soon after that.
The eventual goal is, with 12 women paying for the house, that Tracy Community Connections Center can use any extra funds generated to open another women’s house.
“The idea is with enough people paying we will support the household and we won’t need to apply for grants or hold fundraisers,” Ramirez said.
The house is taking extra precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and any residents will be required to have a recent COVID test and their first two weeks in the home will be in quarantine.
Staff has been working on moving boxes of donated items into the home this week.
“The only thing we need is the start-up costs, the deposit on the place and the first month’s rent and a little bit of a reserves fund for emergencies. The appliances, the bedding — all the things you need for a home and were getting a lot of donations, we still have a lot of needs,” Ramirez said.
Donations included all the furniture from a couple who were clearing out a vacation home and gave the furnishings toward the house.
A list of home furnishings still needed before they open is on an Amazon wish list, and additional cash donations are being accepted through a GoFundMe. The Tracy House will also have volunteer opportunities for people who would like to help.
“We pay for the food. We would love to have volunteers shop, prepare, cook and deliver meals for the women at the home. It’s always a big need,” Ramirez said.
On Saturday volunteers will gather at 9 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 101 Bervedor Ave., to move furniture and other donated items to the Tracy House. Anyone with vans or trucks or willing to help move heavy items are welcome to help.