After years of planning Salt+Light, Self Help Enterprises and members of the community gather to break ground for the 52-unit Neighborhood Village project providing help for those experiencing homelessness
GOSHEN – What was once a dream of a young woman has now become a reality as shovels hit the ground in a ceremonial groundbreaking of a permanent supportive housing complex, projected to take a year to complete.
On Aug. 25, members of the community from healthcare partners, to city councilpersons, county supervisors and many more individuals gathered to watch members from non-profits Salt + Light and Self Help Enterprises break ground and celebrate their one of a kind permanent supportive housing village. As shovels hit dirt, it began the start of a 52-unit master-planned community designed to lift individuals off the streets. This community will be called the Neighborhood Village and will allow those experiencing homelessness an alternative.
“It’s because of the willingness of the local government, the state government and then communities at large, community members at large and all the other nonprofits that make this happen,” Salt + Light founder and CEO Adrianne Hillman said.
The Neighborhood Village is the first of its kind in California, and will be located on 6.5 acres next to Self-Help Enterprises’(SHE) Sequoia Commons multifamily housing project, at Road 76 and Avenue 310 south of Florence Ave. in Goshen, adjacent to the city of Visalia. The two non-profits discovered how well they could work together to reach a common goal to help the less fortunate with the help of several other partners. Tom Collishaw, SHE President & CEO, said they could bring the land as well as the development expertise needed for this project.
“It is important because we need to expand the efforts to provide housing to, particularly those least fortunate among us, in the Valley,” Collishaw said. “It’s going to take more than just a single Self Help Enterprises or housing authority or other nonprofits or for-profit to achieve it, so we see it as an all hands on deck.”
The Village will provide fully furnished 11 by 30-foot modular homes, primarily one bedroom, for individuals considered chronically homeless, meaning they have been experiencing homelessness for more than six consecutive months. The neighborhood is open to all and they won’t turn anyone away up front because of reasons such as drug or alcohol addiction.
“Salt + Light is really special because people can come in with addiction. You’re welcome now, not once you’re fixed,” Rachel Trigueiro, community engagement manager for Salt + Light said. “We aren’t going to tell people, they’re not welcome because of that, but we also want to see them get free and be safe.”
The village will have amenities on site including, wrap around mental and physical health services, coordination of benefits and case management, wellness and financial literacy classes as well as alcoholics anonymous and narcotics anonymous meetings. There will also be job training and workforce development , social enterprise and dignified income opportunities as well as a coffee shop and marketplace.
Additional amenities include a community kitchen, organic garden, outdoor community table eating space, a central park, an off leash dog park, a chapel, tiny library and Hillman’s favorite part is a memorial garden.
Hillman said the life span of an individual experiencing chronic homelessness is shortened due to the trauma experienced. She said individuals living on the streets are also incredibly disconnected from humanity, and the memorial garden is to be “a beacon of hope for the living.” Hillman’s goal is to recreate a sense of family in this community because she said, the greatest cause of homelessness is profound catastrophic loss of family.
“Every person who lives in our village will see that memorial garden and they’ll remember the people we loved all the way out of that village, in death and we love them in life,” Hillman said. “They’ll know that they have a recreated family, at least in our community.”
Salt+Light staff will be on site and there will also be missional residents living on site to help fill the gap while the staff is not there during normal working hours.
The units are supplied by Redman Homes out of Lindsay, which Hillman said they are proud to be able to support a local industry while also creating local jobs. In addition to Redman, the Neighborhood Village has partnered with several other community members including Health Net who will be sponsoring the community kitchen to inspire healthy habits.
“When you look at what makes people healthy, you have to have housing, you have to have food,” Darrel Ng, vice president, communications and marketing with Health Net said. “If you don’t have that, going to the doctor as many times as you can doesn’t really make you healthy.”
The entire project involves several moving pieces and staff is hopeful the community will be complete within nine to 12 months.