Four bungalow-style homes that will provide living space for homeless individuals and families in Riverside who are trying to begin anew officially opened Thursday adjacent to a church on the south side of the city.
“What a blessing this project is,” Mayor Rusty Bailey said during a ceremony to mark the grand opening of the Grove Village. “This will serve the least, the last and the lost among us.”
The village was constructed over a six-month span on a quarter-acre space owned by the Grove Community Church, 19900 Grove Community Drive, in the Orangecrest quarter.
“These small homes are going to be a refuge, a healing place, a launching-off place, a rebuilding place and a dream-making place for our neighbors,” Path of Life Ministries CEO Damien O’Farrell said.
Each 600-square-foot bungalow home will be available to very low-income or homeless people, selected by the church to stay for unspecified durations while they focus on breaking addictions, acquiring job training and making progress toward other life goals that permit them to reach self-sufficiency and find more permanent housing situations, according to city officials.
“This project is the culmination of a long, and sometimes challenging, process designed to lift up our neighbors without homes,” Grove Community Church Pastor Tom Lance said. “Our church members, our volunteers and our donors all have come together to show how a united effort, built on faith and powered by love, can create positive change for people who are struggling to improve their lives.”
The church was the lead entity in putting the project in motion, providing the land, which previously consisted of volleyball courts.
Bailey and other city leaders laid the groundwork for cutting costs to expedite construction and fast-track environmental clearances. The Riverside City Council in June voted to allocate $120,000 in Measure Z public safety sales tax revenue to cover some construction costs. Rotary International District 5330 chipped in with $40,000 in private donations, officials said.
Bailey said the village is part of the city’s “Housing First” initiative, which seeks public-private partnerships to create transitional living opportunities for the homeless.
The strategy was formalized in March in a unanimous council vote, and officials are now looking at potential sites on which to build multi-family residential complexes.
By last count, there were roughly 400 chronically homeless individuals located within the city, according to the Office of Homeless Solutions.
“This project shows how much good can be accomplished when government, faith leaders and the community work together,” said Councilman Chuck Conder, who represents the ward where the Grove Village is located. “We hope this project becomes a shining beacon for other communities to follow as we continue to explore innovative ways of reaching out and helping our homeless community.
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