Fontana House of Hope
By Dianne Anderson
At first glance, it’s easy to jump to the same conclusion about the homeless problem, about why so many lost souls are battling addictions, sleeping at roadside and out in the open fields.
Pastor Harold Patton says that many years ago, he too may have prematurely judged the homeless.
“A lot of us have had those thoughts of the homeless in our younger years – look at that bum, why don’t he get a job? Now I see them quite differently, now that I have Christ in my life,” he said.
Today, he serves the nonprofit House of Hope, which at six beds is still small, but is the beginning of an answer to the bigger homeless problem.
They make a way for homeless men to get off the ground, get job training, a biblical foundation, and life skills. They have medical, dental and vision care partners, and offer anger management and relapse prevention.
He said they have all of the resources available that a client would need to get their life in order if they want help.
Homelessness also comes in various degrees, and caused by any number of triggers. One of their clients was simply overwhelmed by life. Bills started piling up after he went from a decent job making good money to barely surviving on a reduced paycheck working at a fast food place.
“He said I’m just going to get drunk and lay on this mattress and die. When he came to, one of his relatives found him in the hospital at St. Mary’s. He’s at House of Hope now and he’s doing well,” he said.
Not everyone has what it takes to deal with the homeless. Either they don’t have the patience, or the concern, but for Patton, the problem of homelessness was deeply personal. For a long stretch back in the mid-80s, he also was drug addicted and homeless.
While on skid row in Los Angeles strung out on crack cocaine, he happened upon a lady who had recognized him from his youth.
“She gave me a verbal whipping in love that shook me. It brought me to the realization that this life [of addiction] wasn’t for me,” he said. “I asked the Lord to deliver me. He brought me to the Salvation Army, and led to my recovery.”
He hasn’t used since, and now sees how much that early experience gave him the heart to reach out to the homeless.
In the late 90s, he began with the Loveland food ministry, where, through Herbert Johnson’s Storehouse for Blessing, he regularly fed and ministered in Santa Monica. Johnson, before he died, had asked Patton to continue the ministry, which he did along with his wife to 2011.
Today, he continues to fulfill the House of Hope calling at the request of Pastor Chuck Singleton that he and Pastor Robert Smith startup the home for homeless men.
Currently, three of their six beds are filled since opening their doors in January, but many referring agencies do not know about the programming yet. He plans to attend the county’s homeless task force to make sure the word gets out that they can help more men.
He said there are more than enough homeless in need that beds should not wait empty.
To get the word out, he plans to participate in the county’s Interagency Council on Homelessness meetings.
“There are organizations that get money to send homeless people to house them, but they don’t send them to House of Hope. They’ll send them to Cedar House,” he said.
At one point, he said he inquired about using housing from the old army base for the homeless, but was told it could be dangerous because the homeless may run out into the runway.
He said a simple fence could work.
“If you were to do these things, I believe it would cost a lot less money than all the money you spend to go behind to clean up all the areas,” he said.
Although House of Hope programming is relatively new, he is seeing the men who participate become more engaged, and encouraged.
“There are people out there that have good hearts that would like a second chance if only somebody would give them a hand. House of Hope is that hand to help them get back on their feet,” he said.
For help, call (909) 333-1364 or see https://houseofhopefontana.org/