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Outreach at the inn

Salinas Salvation Army steps in to help newly homeless.

by Kathy Lovin –

Left to right: Janet Amaya (resident), Gus Hernandez (resident asst. manager), Capt. Phil Smith (Salinas corps officer), “Sid” Hanosti (motel owner/manager)

Managing The Salvation Army USA West’s blog means that I spend some time on the internet looking for good stories that haven’t otherwise reached us here at territorial headquarters. The following story about the Army’s outreach to residents at a Salinas, Calif. motel was one of those stories.

Impressed with what I read at The Californian website, I blogged about the story briefly, then called Captain Philip Smith in Salinas to find out more.

Here’s an expanded version of the story that was originally covered at www.salvationarmy.usawest.org/ExpectChange.

Lately, we’ve gotten a lot of questions about what happens to families who lose their homes to foreclosure. Some families who’ve been foreclosed upon enter our residency programs; however, the more typical scenario is that we give them food, rent help, utility payments or other essentials so they can start over somewhere new.

Homeless families in Salinas, Calif. are finding help in an unlikely place: the El Dorado Motel. It all started when Siddiqi Hansoti, the motel operator, welcomed Gus Hernandez and his family a few months ago after Hernandez lost his job in the loan industry and then his home.

Hansoti extended Hernandez credit for a room even though he was homeless. Not long after, Hernandez became the motel’s assistant manager. Now, about half the rooms at the El Dorado house homeless families at discounted rates.

Due to a decline in tourism, many small motel operators in the area turn a blind eye to prostitution and drugs at their site—they need the revenue to pay their bills. Hansoti has a totally different approach that helps families and allows him to cover his costs.

The Salvation Army joins forces with the El Dorado
The Salvation Army and other local churches have begun providing needed services at the El Dorado. Salvation Army Captain Philip Smith says they’re planning to provide an after-school program and some help for the parents to find employment. Smith has been working with the families to find out what more he can do to ease their transition back into a place of their own.

The Army’s Family Services manager also meets with the families, providing referrals along with listening to their stories of hardship. Soon, the Army hopes to start doing one-on-one case management.

Smith points out that what they’re doing with the El Dorado residents is outreach. They’re taking Salvation Army programs and services on the road and meeting need where they find it. Smith says, “This is not a one time shot. Our intention is to continue to have a presence here as families move out and new ones move in.”

In this case, necessity is the mother of invention. The El Dorado Motel staff and The Salvation Army have come up with a creative way to care for families who need some extra love and attention in order to get back on their feet again.


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