RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) – There’s no place like home for the holidays, and on Thursday, the City of Riverside unveiled a small village for those struggling with homelessness.
The 600 square foot homes of the Riverside Grove Village were built on the property of the Grove Community Church.
It took a village to create the community with four homes built for homeless families.
“When we first started, we weren’t sure how we were gonna actually do this, but we knew we wanted to do it,” pastor Tom Lance said.
Like many communities in Southern California, Riverside has a growing homeless population, and there isn’t enough affordable housing for those who want to change their situation.
Mayor Rusty Bailey said he turned to the faith community a couple of years ago, but he didn’t expect their response.
“This is an innovative project, I don’t know if there’s any other church that has opened their land to housing,” he said.
The city waived some fees to make construction possible, but the contractor and community members who volunteered their time and labor that put the project on the fast track, allowing for the homes to be built in just months.
“I’m thrilled of all the volunteers. Never dreamed how many volunteers we’d have, over a thousand people came out and helped,” Lance said.
Path of Life Ministries is in the process of identifying families who will be selected to move into the transitional homes. The organization is looking for people who will take advantage of counseling and job placement services in hopes of moving into a permanent house.
“When you’re homeless, a lot of times, you think that’s where you’re gonna be at for the rest of your life,” said Steven Martinez of Path of Life Ministries.
The mayor hopes the community shows what’s possible when groups work together to fight homelessness.
“This is an answer, this is a potential solution for that problem. I hope the other cities take look at this – now we have a playbook for them. We have plans and engineering,” Bailey said.