I am writing to express support for a project being undertaken by a unique partnership between Newport’s First Presbyterian Church, Habitat for Humanity and other community organizations: Hope Rises Village.
In order to do their part to tackle the pressing problem of family and childhood homelessness in our community, Hope Rises Village will construct a small cluster of tiny homes on church property. These homes will be set aside specifically for homeless single parents with children under the age of 18.
Homelessness among children is a serious issue in Lincoln County: an estimated 17 percent of Lincoln County School District students are classified as homeless. Some of these families are able to utilize Samaritan House’s transitional housing program, which offers affordable housing for families for a maximum of 10 months. During their time at Samaritan House, tenants are offered a range of services and education and the chance to get their feet under them. Then they are expected to move onto the next step in their lives, with a move to an independent housing situation. This program has been highly successful.
A major obstacle, though, is finding housing for that next step. We are all aware of the county’s (and indeed the state’s) housing crisis — there is little to buy or rent here for those of moderate means, never mind those on very limited incomes. Hope Rises Village will be that next step for some families, until the children in the family are all age 18.
While some neighborhood and community members have expressed concern about the project, I believe the site will be well managed by the church. A site manager will be hired, and social service organizations will be active partners in the project, helping to direct tenants to services as needed.
We desperately need these kinds of innovative partnerships if we’re going to seriously address homelessness in Lincoln County. The future residents of Hope Rises Village are already our community members. They are children that go to school with your children. They are people that work alongside you at your place of business. They need a simple chance to become housed, and programs like this can be that chance.
I look forward to welcoming my new neighbors as they start a new chapter in their lives.