The project, which was spearheaded by Compassion United, a local support ministry, broke ground in October and may be fully built out in the next four or five years, Compassion United Executive Director Luke Redus said.
When complete, the community will provide housing, a dining hall, a church, a clothing closet, a day center and an empowerment center to support individuals transitioning out of homelessness, poverty and addiction. It will also provide vocational and life skills classes, such as a carpentry shop.
“[They can] build storage sheds, tiny homes,” Redus said. “We are teaching them skills but also creating a product that can be sold.”
There will be two types of housing: transitional housing for people who can go through the program and move into independent living within 12-18 months and long-term supportive housing for people who will take longer to transition or may never be able to live independently, Redus said.
The transitional houses will feature communal living with each house holding 16 people. There will be one house for men, one for women and one for women in crisis. Individuals who participate in the transition program are assigned a mentor and attend classes related to financial, spiritual and mental health.
Long-term supportive housing will comprise duplexes, and individuals will work a job on-site in lieu of paying rent, Redus said. The mentors are volunteers, but once vocational training is added, those positions will likely be paid staff.
The first phase of the project is the creation of the empowerment center and day center. Both centers will be steel buildings, or premanufactured metal buildings. All the permits were finalized in December, and land clearing began in February.
The first building is estimated to be on-site July 1, and the second building will likely be completed within the next 18 months.
As of mid-June, the building pad was about to begin construction after some delays due to rain, and an environmental study was underway for the second building.
Compassion United has so far raised $900,000 in addition to a $1.25 million grant awarded by Montgomery County Community Development.
When asked about potential concerns from nearby residents, Redus said some had voiced worries about living next to the community. However, he said after meeting with residents and discussing the project, they have been mostly accepting.
Hannah Zedaker contributed to this report.