Truckee family center helps with human toll of Sierra drought
TRUCKEE, Calif. —The Family Resource Center of Truckee has been busy keeping roofs over the heads of dozens of local children and adults.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in need and increase in clientele coming in looking for housing assistance,” said Maggie Hargrave, family services coordinator for the center.
One of the main reasons why is lack of employment due to the minimal snowfall this winter.
For example, business at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Truckee is “significantly less” in 2013-14 compared to the past eight years, said Rick Rucker, hotel general manager.
As a result, the hotel has 10 percent to 15 percent fewer staff this winter, he said. Fewer seasonal housekeeping staff have been hired, and hours for the front desk staff have been cut back.
“They understand business is not that strong,” Rucker said.
According to the state’s Employment Development Department, of the 9,620-person labor force in Truckee, 590 people, or 6.1 percent, were unemployed in January 2014.
Of the areas examined in Nevada County, Truckee had the highest number of unemployed, but not the highest unemployment rate. That was Penn Valley, at 9.7 percent, or 70 people out of a 740-person labor force.
During the Great Recession, Truckee had a 9,780-person labor force, with 500 people (5.1 percent) unemployed in January 2008.
“I think (lack of employment) has touched a good number of different sectors in our local economy,” Hargrave said. “Families have repeated the statement, ‘I’ve never asked for help before,’ or ‘This is strange for me because I’ve never had to ask for help before.’
“So I think there’s a good amount of financial difficulty, and that’s affecting people’s ability to pay their rent.”
‘ABLE TO CARRY ON’
Through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program “Emergency Solutions Grants,” the family resource center is allocating funds to Truckee residents in a housing crisis.
The center has assisted 50 adults — 16 formerly “homeless” and 34 “at risk of homelessness” — and 28 children — five formerly “homeless” and 23 “at risk” — through the 2013-14 fiscal year grant, Hargrave said.
In addition, staff currently is working with seven new families to help avoid homelessness, or to become stably housed.
“Our goal is to assist families and individuals to be able to get past a difficult point from which they’ll be able to carry on, on their own,” Hargrave explained.
Three HUD guidelines for the homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing portions of the grant stipulate who can receive funds:
One must be in a housing crisis — either at risk of being homeless or homeless.
To be at risk, one must be 30 percent below the area median income. In Nevada County, that’s $21,700 for a family of four. For those who are homeless, income is not a factor. In addition, a source of income or work to secure a source of income must be shown.
Be a local resident — in this case, Truckee.
The Family Resource Center of Truckee was awarded $198,500 for this fiscal year, the only North Shore organization to receive some of the roughly $11.5 million in California Emergency Solutions Grants.
The amount of money allocated to each individual or family is dependent on their situation, and can go toward security deposits, utility payments, and rent, among other uses.
“I think there’s some alleviation, and people are relieved, they are excited and they are grateful, but they are also aware that there is still uncertainty,” Hargrave said. “They’re still worried. There’s still stress involved.”
‘A GREAT RESOURCE’
The resource center has this year’s grant funding until June 30 and recently applied to be refunded. Awards are scheduled to be announced April 1.
In order for recipients to reach a sustainable, stable place in their lives, the center provides other services in conjunction with the grant, including budgeting assistance, employment resources and legal education.
“(The grant) is a really helpful tool to add to what the FRC has been providing since its inception, so it’s been a great resource for us to have, to provide in our assistance to local families,” Emily Diepenheim, program director for the resource center.
The Family Resource Center of Truckee was founded in 2001. Its mission is to promote social and economic success in the community by providing education, mobilizing resources and advocating for change.