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Jesus House drafts plan to tackle homelessness, affordable housing

August 29, 2018

Jesus House of Odessa plans to address homelessness in Ector County through a transitional housing project and community center.The Rev. Donny Kiker hosted an informational meeting Tuesday to introduce more details behind the vision.The project is called “Safe Haven,” which is a safe place to restart life from the ground up, their pamphlet stated. The church plans to offer eight housing units, four for men and four for women, on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible individuals experiencing homelessness.

“The purpose is to try and get the homeless off of the streets and back into a safe environment for them to be able to be reintegrated into society,” Melissa Guiter, Jesus House secretary, said.“Our goal is that nobody freezes to death in these streets ever again,” Kiker said.Jesus House is in the early phases of the project and recently had plans drafted for the housing units with the help of Cruz Castillo, JSA Architects president. Castillo said that over the next three weeks his firm will complete builder’s drawings that detail the fine points of the interior finishes for the 11 by 14 dwellings.“We don’t want them to look like backyard storage units,” he said. “They are going to have a residential character to them.”An individual must pass a background check, remain drug and alcohol free, be over the age of 18 and be actively seeking a job to be eligible for the housing units. Kiker said that the tenants’ stay is also capped at six months at a time and they cannot reapply for another 30 days to avoid tenants establishing a permanent residence in the transitional housing. “I think this is much needed,” church volunteer Roni Hampton said. “We have homeless that have jobs but they can’t get into housing here because it’s too expensive. I have friends that can’t get an apartment for under $2,000.”Phase two of the project involves building a community center to provide additional needs such as foundational classes stay to help tenants obtain interviews and become more financially literate. Kiker said the project will not eliminate homelessness in Odessa, but he is hoping to let individuals know that Jesus House is here to help through this project as well as through their soup kitchen, clothing ministry and donation drives.

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