• info@smcares.org
  • (209) 467-0703

Developing Exits Out of Homelessness

Housing Services

Housing Services

Our work is centered on finding solutions to making homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring. Guests often initially come to our campus for our meal program or for a hot shower and change of clothes. These are entry points tothe many other services we offer that help guests secure a pathway to stablehousing.

Our Housing Navigation team works with individuals and families to develop personalized solutions for healthier lives, guiding and supporting them with respect and dignity every step of the way.

Emergency and Temporary Shelters

In September 2023, St. Mary’s began operating on-campus shelters that provide 300 beds for men, women and families. These low-barrier shelters are an entryway to the array of resources and services St. Mary’s provides that can lead guests to permanent housing.

A new $5 million Navigation Center will open in the fall of 2023 with a drop-in center, isolation area, laundry facilities and dormitories for men, couples and families to provide supportive services and housing pathways.

Pathways Modular Unit Community

More than 400 individuals will have a secure bedroom unit for six months when the Pathways project opens on the current parking lot at St. Mary’s Community Services. Learn more about how these units are an alternative to congregate shelters and why this is important for many of our guests.

Rocky Finds a Home at St. Mary’s

Baseball fans who watch the game on television can appreciate the ability to see the superimposed strike zone or watch multiple replays of a highlight-worthy catch against the outfield fence. It is a significant contrast to the experience of listening to a game on the radio. Rocky, a diehard San Francisco Giants fan, who spent 12 years living in homelessness, has found ultimate happiness in his new apartment, watching the Giants on his 55” television.

“I listened to every game on the radio when I was homeless,” Rocky said. “Now I can pause the game and rewind it, and I’ve figured out streaming! I like sitting in my living room watching the Giants.”

His television is not the only thing he appreciates about his new apartment. Rocky is enjoying the security and tranquility of living on his own again.

“Living out of a bag was hard; every part of it was hard,” said Rocky. “It was very noisy at the shelter. My new apartment is quiet and dark at night. I’m getting good sleep every night.”

Rocky, who is 64, was let go from a security position and was unable to collect unemployment. Without income, he found himself homeless. At night he slept at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless, and during the day, he fixed bicycles for others living in encampments. He ate three meals a day at St. Mary’s Community Services, showered and received a clean set of clothes. He took advantage of the medical center to help him through a shoulder injury.

What set him on a pathway to housing was when Rocky received assistance from the Resource Center to help him apply for Social Security. Once he began receiving his checks, the staff helped him find an apartment.

St. Mary’s has been Rocky’s community for more than a decade, and though he has been housed for six months, he often returns to campus on “Spaghetti Mondays,” or picks up free bread, or restocks medical supplies that help manage his diabetes. But most likely, those are not what is pulling him back to a place he yearned to leave. It’s the people. He talks about Tim and Bruce, Johnny and Ralph – all staff members he has befriended over the years.

Rocky is leading off this new inning of his life with the energy, support and kindness he has received from St. Mary’s staff for 12 years, and they will continue to cheer him on for decades to come.

An Unexpected Twist Brought Andrea to Her Knees – St. Mary’s and Ekaba Got her Back on Her Feet

Andrea was living large. She co-owned three businesses in the Bay Area, had several homes, luxury cars and time shares. Having grown up in poverty, she was proud of the life she had achieved. When her husband, who was also her business partner, began using drugs, her world was turned upside down. He left with nearly all her assets, and she lost the businesses she had worked 14-hour days to sustain.

“I wasn’t what most people would consider a typical homeless person,” said Andrea. “I was a successful businesswoman. I had everything, and then I had nothing. I fell hard.”

She had medical ailments that had progressed so significantly that she was unable to work. She lived with friends for a while, but with no money and deep emotional wounds, she became dispirited and attempted suicide.

“One of my roommates found me in the tub. I was about an hour away from checking out,” she said. It turns out that the roommate was ironically the cousin of Ekaba, who would soon become her second lifeline.

She met him months later when she was living in her car and using the resources and services at St. Mary’s Community Services. Ekaba had been living in a tent behind St. Mary’s, volunteering in the Dining Room, where, like Andrea, he ate three meals a day. They found a connection, and for over a year, they both lived in Andrea’s car.

“The worst part was going to the bathroom in the middle of the night,” she said. “I had to wake him up so he could hold a blanket up so no one could see me. He made a tarp for the car because when the rain came in, it made my lungs really bad. He has taken good care of me.”

They used the Shower and Clothing Center, and it is there that Andrea saw a sign for housing navigation services. Within a few months, they received keys to their apartment.

“We got the keys when we were eating dinner one night in the Dining Room, and we went straight to the apartment. We were so happy, overjoyed really. We have electricity again,” said Ekaba, who still volunteers in the Dining Room. It’s his way of showing his appreciation to the staff for their support.

Andrea, who loves to cook, is grateful for the ability to make her own meals again and to use a private bathroom. The past six years have given her a new perspective on homelessness.

“I used to look at people who were homeless and think they were nasty and lazy and on drugs–that they were in that situation because of decisions they made,” said Andrea. “I was none of those things. I was homeless because of decisions someone else made. The staff helped me to understand that this can happen to anyone and made me feel better about my circumstances. It has changed my perspective and really humbled me.”