Ministry builds tiny houses for homeless people transitioning from shelters to self-sufficiency

Community includes resource center, helps resident achieve independence

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Many homeless people in San Antonio are overwhelmed by the transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency, which is why Last Chance Ministries is creating 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.

The people ready for change become eligible for brand new tiny transition homes, which were built just within the last two weeks. By next week, there will be six.

Once they're finished and furnished, Chavez will be the first to move in.

A large home in the front of the property will be a one-stop-shop for resources. There will be an area for counseling area, office space and a kitchen where volunteer chefs plan to teach cooking classes.

"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.

"This is something that I never expected in my life. This is happening because of you," Chavez said to Garcia, giving her a big hug. "Thank you, love you!"

Garcia paid for Chavez's house and will dedicate it to her late husband, who loved helping the homeless.

"There's nothing like the feeling to see Juan and how happy he is, how ready he is to be out there," Garcia said.

Currently, Last Chance Ministries needs sponsors for three more houses. The ministry is also looking for help furnishing the homes.

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.

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