The 5 Cities Homeless Coalition (5CHC) is currently in escrow to purchase the Hillside Church property in Grover Beach so it can provide a variety of homeless services, including transitional housing and permanent supportive housing, in collaboration with Peoples' Self-Help Housing.
Matthew Bronson, Grover Beach city manager, said he wants to emphasize that the idea is being led by the two nonprofits and it's a concept that's still in the development stage.
According to a Grover Beach staff report, the conceptual proposal includes two phases. The first would consist of remodeling the existing buildings' approximately 17,000 sqaure feet for 5CHC's administrative office, case management service center, winter warming shelter, 11 youth dormitory rooms with up to 44 beds, on-site live-in manager, and other services.
The potential purchase is based on securing grants from the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) that is designed to provide direct assistance to cities, counties, and Continuum of Care programs. Formula funding estimates for the local Continuum of Care programs in SLO County show it will be allocated $4.8 million. In October 2018, the city of Grover Beach declared a homeless shelter crisis in order to get access to some of that funding.
The Hillside Church proposal, Bronson said, does address the City Council's goals of finding solutions for homelessness as well as housing affordability.
The 2018-19 goals stated that the city would address its homeless challenges by partnering with others to provide enhanced services such as a warming station, daytime services, and a nighttime shelter. Those goals also state that the city would like to collaborate with developers and nonprofits on housing projects that increase the availability of affordable housing within city limits.
The second phase of the church project would include constructing approximately 20 permanent supportive housing units for Peoples' Self-Help on the undeveloped portion of the site. The organization would own and manage the units and include an on-site manager's unit. The housing would serve people earning at or below 30 percent of the median income.
John Fowler, president and CEO of Peoples' Self-Help Housing, said this is an opportunity for both organizations because they have been looking to meet the need in the Five Cities area for some time but hadn't been able to find an appropriate site.
He said some neighbors have expressed concerns this project would make the homeless situation worse.
"We're hoping that we can bring the neighbors along and help them understand—us being there will not make the situation worse," Fowler said. "Actually bringing in resources to solve the problem will make it better."