Irvine is one of the exceptions to the rule. It is a fairly affluent community, and there isn’t a section of town that is considered “poor”. Most American cities cannot boast the same claim. Although Cross Irvine is blessed beyond measure we are always choosing ways to share the blessing as far and wide as possible.
So when a good idea comes up for discussion as to how we can help make life a little easier on our neighbors, our Board takes it into consideration. As our readers know, our community garden project has been a big hit in a number of local and outer lying areas, so we are always asking what more can we contribute?
Recently, John Hanover, a congregant of 12 years, and a member of the Church Board brought up the idea of transitional housing. John is a roofer by trade so he’s not the kind of guy to roll around using limo service Raleigh NC. He employs a lot of young men in his business and they come in from outlying communities. Since the nature of the work is spending long, hot days doing a tough job. He hires men who are trained and capable, but also men who have had a history of time spent in prison for a non-violent offence.
He’ll have his brother Brian train them and once qualified they are on the payroll. It has proven to be a successful program and has given the recently released men a new footing in life.
John’s younger brother, Brian had a run-in with the law when he was in his early twenties, and it changed his life forever. After being released from spending two years in the State Penitentiary, he was jobless, homeless and without direction. John stepped in and helped Brian get back on track, but he wondered about those guys who didn’t have that type of opportunity.
That’s when he started his employment project and also opened his first transitional house. As owner of On Top Of It Roofing, John knew the neighboring area of Fontana well. He informed the Board that because he does business with several real estate agents he was soon told about a couple of properties for consideration. He decided to purchase one, remodel and open it as a rental to three or four guys as a temporary or transitional house while they re-established themselves into community life again. He was in a position to offer them work and a safe, reasonable rental.
These men are out on parole and trying to get their lives back on track. Their offenses were “soft” crimes, but still landed them in prison doing a year or two of time. A “soft” crime is a non-violent, non-sexual offense usually involving crimes against society like petty theft, marijuana possession or DUI. Once released many of them don’t want to go back, but without direction, a job, skill or a place to live they often become one of the statistics in the recidivism rate.
John suggested that with his know-how and new connections with the California Department of Corrections Re-entry program, that Cross Irvine sponsor a transitional house. It was voted on and unanimously passed. The Church hopes to have its first transitional home ready for occupancy by the end of August.
In the meantime, John and his brother Brian are on the lookout for a suitable house. It has to meet several criteria. A REO – bank owned home or foreclosure usually gives the potential of the best purchase price. It has to pass zoning for more than 3 unrelated parties living in the same dwelling, it needs to be within a mile of public transportation and close to conveniences. There is quite a list of considerations before it actually becomes an actual home that can be used as transitional.
As you know the project was announced at the first Sunday service in April, and has already garnered a list of volunteers to see this idea through from start to finish. If this is any indication of it’s success, we are very encouraged.
Let us know through the Church office if you would like to be a part of the transitional house team.