Havre Daily News
A Havre church congregation is building housing for needy families, and eventually a rescue mission for the city's homeless.
Hi-Line Christian Church, recently renamed the Christian Life Center, hopes to have the housing available as early as March.
Pastor Vern Brown said he and his wife, Mary, both were inspired by God to pursue the project.
“We have a long way to go, but a beautiful vision,” Vern Brown said Tuesday.
Work originally had been planned to start next summer on the Browns' vision, known as Jubilee House. But the possibility of providing housing for Hurricane Katrina victims quickened the process, Vern Brown said. However, the two Katrina families who relocated to the Hi-Line are using other housing.
The project will rely mostly on volunteers. Brown said he has been talking with licensed plumbers and electricians, but “if it can be done by volunteers, we're doing it.”
Brown said the housing will hold five to seven families, for a total of 25 to 27 people.
He said he thinks the average stay will be from six months to 18 months and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Residents will be aided with education, job skills and household duties. The house will help residents save money and find permanent accommodations.
“The motto of Jubilee House is: Come empty, leave full,” Brown said. “We want to restore everything they've lost through whatever circumstances.”
Jubilee House will have an application process and will do background checks to ensure the safety of others. Possible candidates include single parents going through divorce, and recovering drug abusers and alcoholics.
The project will need donations of furniture and clothing later, but for now they're running out of room. Brown said his goal is to have a store room and have Jubilee House residents personalize their rooms with the donations. The guests will then take the goods with them when they leave to remind them of where they came from.
“What's the purpose if you kick them out without anything?” he said.
Residents will be required to attend services at the center or another local church.
“You can't require them to believe in God, but can require attendance,” Brown said. “They still need to attend even if they don't believe.”
Salvation Army social service director Trina Crawford said today she used to think Havre didn't have a need for such housing, but “since I have been working for Salvation Army there have been a lot of homeless people - more and more.”
“We have had to send them to Great Falls to the rescue mission,” Crawford said.
District IV Human Resources Development Council has four three-bedroom homes in the Havre area used for transitional housing for displaced families, said Diane Savasten Getten, director of housing for HRDC.
The houses have been available since 1996 and are all occupied. Residents can stay up to 18 months and are part of a case-management program to help them get their own homes, she said.
A variety of funding will pay for Jubilee House, including special offerings in church and money donated by community members. The church also will apply for grants, Brown said.
After the house is complete, the second step is a rescue mission. The mission will be in a different section of the building so it won't create safety issues.
People who need shelter for a night or so could go to the mission without having to go through a background check.
“Last night, what was it - 30 below? Nobody needs to be outside in that,” Brown said.