Better Together: A Model of Local Government and the Local Church Converging to Care for the Homeless

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When faith communities and civic leadership work together for good, the community benefits.

We’ve grown used to stories of churches pitted against civic leaders in local communities and of religious liberty battles in the larger political arena. What is not so common today is the convergence of faith communities and local governments to tackle issues all sides see as vital.

But that’s just what is happening in Riverside, California, through the efforts of Grove Community Church and Mayor Rusty Bailey.

The Burden of a Mayor and a Church’s Response

Mayor Bailey wanted to do something to alleviate the plight of homeless people in his city. The Love Your Neighbor initiative partners the government with churches, synagogues, and nonprofits. The Grove, as Grove Community Church is known, eagerly volunteered to participate.

Mayor Bailey believed the way to get rid of homelessness was to provide a home. He asked churches to consider putting a home for the homeless on their property. The Grove was the first to jump on the opportunity.

They built four small 600-square foot “tiny homes” on the church property, naming it The Grove Village. Some in the neighborhood pushed back, but overall there was a great spirit of unity on the project.

The city helped by waiving significant fees for the effort. Current pastor Daniel Bishop credited his predecessor, Tom Lance, with initiating the work. President of Tilden Coil Construction, Brian Jaramillo, who attends The Grove, reached out to various contractors and suppliers to make this project go from a dream to a reality.

Building Homes for the Homeless

Many began donating resources, time, and money to the effort. Someone donated all the framing, and another the plumbing, Bishop said, adding:

Some were believers, some were not believers, but they believed in what was going …

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