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  • RANDALL BENTON / rbenton@sacbee.com

    Volunteers clear the yard Saturday at an Elk Grove home being prepared as transitional housing for the homeless.

  • RANDALL BENTON / rbenton@sacbee.com

    A volunteer works inside a home that will help homeless and disabled people transition into housing of their own as they search for jobs. It will house five people at a time under the supervision of a live-in counselor.

  • RANDALL BENTON / rbenton@sacbee.com

    Volunteers Carlos Rios-Dominguez, 15, left, and Tyler Coupe, 17, right, help a third worker carry out an old toilet Saturday from a house being renovated to assist homeless and disabled people.

  • RANDALL BENTON / rbenton@sacbee.com

    Volunteers Dave King, left, and Bill Kirkland put up a new fence. The city of Elk Grove expects to spend $60,000 preparing the house for its new occupants.

Volunteers toil for first transitional home in Elk Grove for homeless people

Published: Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012 - 9:00 am

It was out with the old and in with the new Saturday in an Elk Grove neighborhood.

Dozens of volunteers, young and old, turned out to transform a dilapidated house into the city's first "transitional home" for homeless people.

"We want to help people get back on their feet," said Sarah Bontrager, Elk Grove's housing manager.

An estimated 70 people volunteered, many arriving as early as 7 a.m.

Sacramento Self Help Housing, a nonprofit that provides assistance to disabled and homeless people, will manage the transitional home, hiring one live-in counselor for the home's five residents. The hope is to help the residents find jobs within a few months, so they can support themselves and move out.

Elk Grove resident Frank Lucia, who spearheaded the project, said it "was time for the city to step up and do something."

He estimates there are 125 homeless people living in Elk Grove and explained the goal is to get people into their own homes permanently.

"It's about self-help," Lucia said.

On Saturday, he and other volunteers got their hands dirty. Some pitched in to move debris, while others erected a new fence. A tile floor was being replaced with vinyl and the kitchen will be completely redone with new appliances and cabinets.

Volunteers also will paint the entire house a beige color – a stark contrast from the exterior's current bright green.

"I'm here because I love the community," said volunteer Tyler Coupe, a 17-year-old from Pleasant Grove High, who was taking a break, chomping on a burger.

Several organizations, including the Lions and Rotary clubs, came out to help.

The city purchased the house in July for $155,000 in a short sale. The city expects to spend another $60,000 in renovations. Funding for the project came from a federal government community development block grant, Bontrager said.

By noon, the fence was half up and the scent of burgers could be picked up throughout the neighborhood. Lucia came around to make sure everyone ate.

"Grab a burger because they're closing," he told the group.

When asked whether the transitional house had encountered any opposition, Bontrager said, "there wasn't much controversy," noting that transitional housing is permitted under state law.

Neighbor Daniel Hoyal, who was peering into the construction site, wasn't too enthusiastic about the project. Hoyal admitted he didn't know what transitional housing was.

"The city tried to hide what was actually happening," he said. "They told me property values were going up because of the renovations to that home, but now, I'm thinking the opposite's going to happen."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Richard Chang



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