'From nothing to something': Once homeless man moves in to tiny home

SAN ANTONIO – Many homeless people in San Antonio are overwhelmed by the transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency, which is why Last Chance Ministries has created a community of tiny transitional houses, ensuring success for those who truly want it.

"Sometimes God will close doors at you because he's going to open bigger doors," said Juan Chavez, pointing to the front door of his new home.

To some people, the 10- by 12-foot house doesn't look like much, but to Chavez, who was homeless, it's a dream come true.

Not too long ago, he was alone sleeping on park benches when another homeless man led Chavez to Last Chance Ministries' church center for the homeless, located at 1311 N. Zarzamora St.

"They get to eat. We don't ask them no questions, no ID. They're strung out on drugs or whatever. They get a six-minute shower. They get to go to the closet and get some clothes," Pastor Jimmy Robles said of the homeless people who come through his ministry's doors.

Robles said from there, some people, like Chavez, thrive and are inspired to make big life changes.

"We'll take them to get their ID, Social Security, birth certificate. This way, they feel good about themselves and want to go get a job," Robles said.

Chavez was the first to move in to the tiny homes.

A large home in the front of the property serves as a one-stop-shop for resources.

"They're going to leave here knowing how to cook, how to wash clothes, how to budget for finances," Robles said.

The program runs on donations and volunteers. Each house, like the one covered by sponsors like Hope Garcia, costs $5,000.

During move-in Saturday, Chavez marveled at his new home, saying, "it's not over yet, my life -- it's just starting now." Sitting on the porch steps of his home, he added, "Thank God. Wow. From nothing to something. You know what I mean?"

The current houses, which inhabitants can live in for three months, are for single people right now, but in the future, the ministry hopes to build more houses to accommodate families. 

The ministry is also asking for volunteers who are willing to teach a range of skills at the resource center on the property.

Anyone with a desire to help can call Last Chance Ministries at 210-227-4451 or go to www.last-chance-ministries.org for more information.

About the Authors

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

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