Riverside church building homes for the homeless on its property

Leticia Juarez Image
Thursday, November 29, 2018
Riverside church building homes for the homeless on its property
Riverside's Grove Community Church is building four homes for the homeless on its church property.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Six weeks after breaking ground, construction on four small homes are nearly complete.

The homes are located on the grounds of the Grove Community Church in Riverside.

The project is the result of an initiative started two years ago to help people without a place to call their own.

"Love your neighbor came about through really a vision that God gave me to house the homeless," said city of Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey.

He took that vision to faith-based and nonprofit organizations in the city.

"I said I think we can do four. Then I was driving home... I didn't ask the board or anyone else about this. I need to get the board together," said Pastor Tom Lance of his decision to build the home on his church's property.

The church's board and congregation went all in with many volunteering to do the work. The city also waived $120,000 in fees to get the project started.

"We believe when it is all said and done of the $700,000, actual cash from the church is going to be about $50,000 that we are going put into this program. Everything else has been donated," said Lance.

Once completed, the two-bedroom, 600 square-foot homes will come fully furnished with a living space, kitchen and bathroom.

"Our goal here is we want to bring people on this property who want to be employed. That they want to get out of homeless(ness)," said Lance.

The Grove will work with Path of Life ministries, which provides homeless services and shelter for people in need. Together they will vet potential candidates. There are nearly 500 homeless men, women and children living in the city.

"That is the condition that they are in. It doesn't have to be permanent. There is a way out and housing is the way out, and beyond that wraparound services," said Bailey.

Some of the services the city and church will provide include medical, dental, social work, counseling and job training/placement.

Members of the congregation will also adopt the families or individuals chosen by inviting them to take part in activities in and outside the church.

"We want them to know what it means to be a believer in Christ. We aren't going to force religion down their throat, but the reason this is happening is our people love Riverside," said Lance.

The hope is to have a family in place by Christmas. The church will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 20, officially opening The Grove Village.

"I would hope there is a lesson learned here - it can be applied to other sites and other cities in other communities," said Bailey.

HOW TO HELP: The Grove has established a housewarming registry at Target for anyone interested in helping to furnish the homes. The first name on the account is (The Grove) and last name is (Village). Items purchased online will be sent to the church.