A church in El Cajon, California revealed plans to build six cabins on its property to house the homeless in the hope of leading other churches to follow suit.
Meridian Baptist Church Pastor Rolland Slade told The Christian Post that they have partnered with Home Start and Amikas to execute their plans for the homeless. Slade said the church intends to offer a safe environment for the homeless through their cabins, which they expect will be completely occupied by May 30.
Slade explained that the cabins are a temporary shelter for the homeless. In particular, they intend to provide emergency housing for veteran women with children for a maximum of 90 days. The occupants will then be transferred on rotation to transitional or permanent housing after their length of stay in the cabins expires.
"So in theory, within a year, we'd be able to have (about) 50 people go through...maybe more. The cabin platforms are 20 square feet, and inside living spaces (are) 96 square feet for each cabin, having kind of like a porch to it so they can sit outside in a chair and enjoy the breeze," Slade said.
Slade shared that people have constantly asked him why are they doing the cabins. The pastor recounted being told that his church is the only one doing such a project. He reasoned being crazy enough to think about it and actually test the waters.
A former Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee Chair in 2020, Slade disclosed that they are documenting all that they are doing for other churches who wish to mimic their efforts. Slade revealed that he got the inspiration to build the cabin after seeing an Amikas demonstration cabin in the City Heights. His church has been serving the homeless through weekly dinners for a long time and he thought of building one cabin on their property.
However, the city did not permit residential use on the church's property due to zoning concerns. The church eventually acquired the needed administrative zoning permit to build the cabins after the necessary parameters were obtained by his staff. The process of obtaining the permit took them three years.
"It's been interesting because we've never built anything like this; the city had never built anything like it. Our insurance company had never seen anything like this. So everybody's kind of been learning, and that's the good part about it. We have been learning, and we're doing it the right way," Slade highlighted.
The cabins are currently being built in "Tumbleweed Village," a name he coined for the area of the church's unused property where a lot of weeds grew. As of now, all six frames for the cabin are up pending inspection. Insulation and electricity will be the next step once the permit for it is obtained.
The church is also welcoming volunteers daily who he asks to sign a waiver when they assist in the construction. The pastor raised it is an opportunity for volunteers to perceive the homeless differently. He said it will help people get a better understanding of what pushes individuals to live in the streets.
The pastor clarified, however, that those who avail of their services for the cabins are not mandated to come to church. He only wants the homeless to feel more loved and be a part of the community.