Haven for the homeless | TheUnion.com

Haven for the homeless

Four months ago, Terri Keck had just given birth to her second son and was on the verge of being in the streets with no support.

“I got into a situation where I didn’t have a place to live and, fortunately, they have this program, or I’d be homeless,” said Keck, 28.

The program is the Booth Family Center on Rough and Ready Highway, formerly the Manzanita Family Center.

The Salvation Army bought the center for $800,000 from the nonprofit Nevada County Housing Development Corporation in November, when it realized the dwindling economy was increasing the number of homeless and potentially homeless families.

The new center will be formally dedicated at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at a public open house.

“In the last six months, we’ve had 34 families here” who stayed for free, said Major Robert Keene of the Grass Valley Salvation Army. Many have been successful and found their own place to live.

Many of the families became homeless because of bad credit, said Suzie Bacon, Keck’s Salvation Army case worker. Others battle with drugs or alcohol.

“A lot of folks think it’s a free place to live, and they don’t get with the program, but we know that within a week, and they don’t last,” Keene said.

Eight of the nine rooms are occupied and the last should be soon, Keene said. Families put their names on a waiting list when the old motel is full, but the idea is to get people back on their feet and into their own apartment in six months, so turnover creates new openings.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve got a job and now I’m looking for a place to live,” Keck said, while rocking sons Jayden, 2, and Skyler, 5 months. “You save one-third of your income so can come up with the money for a new place.

“They’ve got me back into college too,” Keck said. “This motivates me.”

“It’s helping people find places to live and (improving) their self-esteem,” Bacon said. Bacon finds services her clients need, be it consumer credit counseling, child care or visits from county nurses to check on children’s health and nutrition.

The tenants share a large community room and kitchen where they cook their own meals.

“We want them to be a family and sit down and eat a meal together,” Keene said. “We also offer spiritual counseling, if they want it.”

Five program aides monitor the center to give tenants moral support and to keep an eye on them, Keene said. “They do write-ups on people if they break the rules, and there is random drug testing for those who are suspected,” Keene said.

“It lets people become productive in society again, instead of being a drain.”

To get on the waiting list for the center, call Keene at 575-7639 or e-mail robert.keene@usw.salvationarmy.org.

n What: Booth Family Center dedication and open house

n When: 4:30 p.m. Sunday

n Where: 12390 Rough and Ready Highway, west of Grass Valley

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