Summer Soiree event helps start-up nonprofit Salt + Light raise money needed to construct 52-unit Neighborhood Village for the homeless
VISALIA – The homeless village planned to open next fall in Goshen will be built on donated ground, connected to an existing residential neighborhood and managed by volunteers once it opens. The only thing left to do is raise enough money to build the mobile homes to house the unhoused.
Salt + Light, the start-up non-profit orchestrating the project, held its first major fundraising event Aug. 20 at the Visalia Convention Center. The event featured renowned keynote speaker Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, and special guest Alan Graham, founder of Mobile Loaves and Fishes and Community First! Village in Austin, Texas, after which the Tulare County project is modeled.
“In the spirit of changing the landscape of Tulare County for the better forever, I ask the Central Valley Community to trust Salt + Light by supporting us and allowing us to continue this important work of creating a new—and proven—model for addressing homelessness,” Salt + Light founder and CEO Adrianne Hillman said.
Over the last decade, many Tulare County residents were becoming increasingly frustrated with the crisis of homelessness in Tulare County. It was that shared frustration that prompted Hillman to found Salt + Light in 2019. After visiting Austin, Texas and seeing Community First! Village work, Hillman was inspired to begin work on a similar project here which provides homeless people with respect and privacy while also supporting them with resources and providing them with opportunities to be productive members of their community.
Her vision culminated in The Neighborhood Village, a 52-unit master-planned, permanent supportive housing community designed to lift our neighbors experiencing homelessness up off of the streets of Tulare County. The village, the first of its kind in California, will be located on 6.5 acres next to Self-Help Enterprises’ Sequoia Commons multifamily housing project, phase one of which opened in 2020, at Road 76 and Avenue 310 south of Florence Ave. in Goshen, adjacent to the city of Visalia.
The 11 by 30-foot mobile homes will primarily be one bedroom, with a few two bedroom units, and include a kitchen, restroom, laundry room and bedroom. The project is expected to begin construction in April 2022 with a move-in date of November 2022.
The vision behind Salt + Light is exemplified in Father Greg Boyle’s Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. Like Salt + Light, Homeboy Industries creates healing and hope through purposeful work and kinship in community. As the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world, Homeboy Industries employs and trains former gang members and felons in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to thousands of men and women who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life.
In addition to their impressive lineup of social enterprises which include Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Cafe and Homeboy Recycling and E-Waste, the organization is also working on transitional housing for their many employees and clients who are experiencing homelessness.
“Gangs are the places kids go when they discover their life to be a misery, and misery loves company,” Father Boyle has said. “It’s about kids who can’t imagine their future so they plan their funerals. Hope is an essential thing. Nobody has ever met a hopeful kid who joined a gang.”
Like Father Greg, Hillman also feels that hope is an essential thing. Providing dignity and care in a community setting is how she feels she can make a difference, and she is asking for Tulare County residents to support in joining the movement.