After living on St. Simons Island for 13 years, an individual known as Carl, who asked not to be identified by his real name, found himself homeless and using the shelter and services offered in Brunswick.
He is now taking advantage of a new opportunity offered by FaithWorks Ministries and putting a bit of sweat equity into a house he could potentially call home.
“I worked in very public jobs and lived with a guy who got sick,” said Carl, who shared his story during the short break he took from scraping the paint off the exterior of the house he’s working on. “Several things went wrong after that, and I ended up homeless. I have some options, and have not decided whether I’ll rent a room in the house.”
Though he has not decided if he will rent one of the three bedrooms in the more than 100-year-old Victorian home at 2207 Reynolds, Carl is nonetheless gaining construction and home maintenance skills, which is one of the goals of the program.
FaithWorks in October launched the demonstration project as a continuation of the faith-based nonprofit’s efforts to help individuals like Carl get back on their feet.
“This is a great program,” Carl said. “FaithWorks has done a lot for people who are trying to transition from homelessness.”
FaithWork’s plan is to build and test the community housing and job training program model to as a way to provide affordable, temporary and permanent housing, employment opportunities and case management services to the transitioning homeless population in Glynn County. The hope is to also garner interest from philanthropic investors, said Charles Molloy, development director for the project.
An advisory council of business, investment, social services and housing and construction professionals are helping with the program. FaithWorks also has a partnership and a memorandum of understanding with Gateway Behavioral Health Services, according to information provided the proposal for the program. Job training will center on the very basics of the building and renovation trades as well as home maintenance.
People selected for the program will come from the homeless clients registered with The Well, a local shelter run by FaithWorks, who are paid minimum biweekly for the hours they put in. They will then have the option to rent a room in the house they work on, should they choose to do so, Molloy said.
Mandatory training will cover basic plumbing, paint stripping, light carpentry, et cetera, said Ron Slade, project manager for the project.
“The intention is for those who work on the houses to have first dibs at renting the houses at below market rate,” FaithWorks’ executive director, the Rev. Wright Culpepper, said Monday.
As the model grows, the renovated housing will convert to permanent rental housing for individuals in and outside the program, according to the proposal.
“The challenge right now is to get seed money,” Molloy said. “The initial funding for the project is from estate gifts left to us from two key supporters (which amounted to) a little less than $40,000 that will pay for this 16-week demonstration period.”
Faithworks has a price point of $50,000 with $25,000 to purchase properties and another $25,000 to purchase renovation supplies, Molloy said, adding they’re also looking to get donated properties.
Anyone who would like to donate a property for use in the program can contract, Molloy via email at email@example.com.
The three bedroom, one bathroom house at 2207 Reynolds is more than 100 years old and was left to FaithWorks for use in the nonprofit’s ministry, Culpepper said.
“We wanted to get one house under our belt to show the redemption of properties and people. We hope this model will spur interest in the program,” Culpepper said.
The plan includes purchasing distressed properties in Glynn County and possibly acquiring foreclosed properties in partnership with the Glynn County-Brunswick Land Bank Authority, he said.
Renovated houses eventually will be sold to the general public. Proceeds from the sales and the rental income generated from each renovated property will provide funding for salaries and administrative and program expenses.