Ana and Guadalupe “Lupe” Lupercio proudly welcome visitors to their spotlessly clean Vacaville apartment.
Just a few months ago, the couple did not know where they would be living. After renting the same house for 25 years, their landlord decided to sell it and they had to find a new place, a daunting prospect in a tight market — and even more daunting for seniors struggling with health problems.
Both are on modest fixed incomes. Ana, 77, worked for Lowe’s hardware store as a janitor until last year when a broken foot sidelined her. Before that she worked at a tomato cannery for 25 years. Lupe, 62, was a truck driver until a bad accident left him disabled.
“We were very worried about what we would do. We found out very soon we just couldn’t afford a regular apartment,” Lupe said.
They started applying for subsidized housing but discovered that many places had waiting lists of two years or more. They had just two months to find a new home.
Both investigated every lead they could.
“We were looking all over the place,” Ana said. Because many complexes charge application fees of $50 or so, they prioritized applying to ones where the wait was six months or less.
“Our rental market in Vacaville is very difficult,” said Isabel Montana, a social worker with Vacaville First Family Resource Center. “They are a very sweet, caring couple but were very stressed. They’ve had a lot of struggles with their health.”
Just in time, a subsidized two-bedroom opened up.
“We were lucky,” Lupe said. “I heard of people looking for years.”
But all those application fees had added up. “Even with just four or five places, that is $200 or $250 you don’t have,” he said. “That’s a lot of money.” Naturally they had some moving expenses, too.
Season of Sharing paid their first month’s rent, reducing the stress of moving into their new home. The fund works year-round to prevent homelessness and hunger in the nine-county Bay Area. All donations go directly to help people in need, with administrative costs covered by The Chronicle and the Walter and Evelyn Haas Jr. Fund.
“That helped a lot,” Ana said. “Now that we’re not working, we have to live with what we get.”
For both, their injuries still linger. Ana limps noticeably. Lupe says his back and knees have never fully recovered.
“Some days I wake up in the morning and I can’t even sit up,” he said. He also deals with health problems like heart disease and diabetes.
Still, they are both upbeat. They tease each other, reminiscing about how they met years ago at a dance at a community center in Dixon.
“I told her I liked her and didn’t want her to dance with anyone else,” Lupe recalled.
Within a few months, they’d fallen in love. They went to Ana’s hometown of Zacatecas, Mexico, to marry. Framed drawings of the town decorate the hallway wall.
They never had children but are close to their siblings and many nieces and nephews.
“We were really lucky,” Ana said. “We’re thankful for all the help that helped us get our place.”
Help your Bay Area neighbors today by donating to the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund: https://seasonofsharing.org/donate-now/. All administrative expenses are covered by the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund and the San Francisco Chronicle so 100% of your tax-deductible donation helps Bay Area residents in need.