Warm and Dry for the Winter

Sylvia and four of her grandchildren in a 3-bedroom apartment at Arturo Ochoa Migrant Center in Gilroy, Calif., managed by EAH Housing.

Gilroy, CA, December 22, 2016 – Thirty-five families once homeless — living in cars, motels or tents — are now warm and dry for the winter in affordable temporary housing at the EAH Housing-managed Arturo Ochoa Migrant Center in Gilroy, Calif. One family of seven, formerly crammed into a motel room, is headed by Sylvia Soto.

“The grandkids are happy now that they have a roof over their heads,” said Sylvia, 63. “I thank God every day for this place and for the food we receive here.”

Sylvia and her husband Paul Espinoza, 61, share their modestly-furnished three-bedroom apartment at Ochoa with five of Sylvia’s grandchildren: three girls and two boys ranging in age from 7 to 17.

EAH Housing is the only non-governmental entity managing one of California’s 24 migrant farmworker housing centers. EAH, one of only two offering winter shelter to homeless families, partners with Gilroy’s St. Joseph’s Family Center, which provides families referrals to permanent housing and gives them weekly groceries.

Paul supports Sylvia and the grandchildren by working construction, cutting bricks for chimneys on new houses springing up all over Santa Clara County. But Sylvia’s chronic heart problems and diabetes prevent her from working.

Before she had a heart attack, Sylvia used to work as a housekeeper at a Gilroy motel. In 2012 she underwent a double bypass heart surgery. She feels much better since then, but also struggles with serious diabetes. She has been on dialysis, now three times a week, since January 2016.

Sylvia took in the five grandchildren, after their mother, one of her three daughters, left them. She and Paul found a motel room for the grandchildren and Paul covered their rent and groceries.

But then the owner of Sylvia and Paul’s home, claiming he wanted to sell their rental house, evicted them. All seven ended up together at the motel.

But that couldn’t last. It was too expensive. Happily, while Sylvia was looking for permanent housing, she found a spot at Ochoa.

“EAH opened their arms for us,” said Sylvia. “Paul and I and the grandkids really appreciate that.”