ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar)- It’s been eight years in the making and Monday the first residents are set to move into the new Women’s and Children’s Center operated by Jesus House.
The 12-month program is one like no other, a place for women and their children to live, learn, and save for the future.
“It was all just divinely timed,” said Shirley Almanza, Women’s and Children’s Center Director. “We have our first resident moving in Monday. We have some really good candidates that are coming in behind her.”
The WCC has room for four moms and their children, up to 16 people. Not only will the center provide shelter and warm beds, but it will also provide an intense education in finance, parenting, relationship counseling, and cooking.
Everything to help the residents get back on their feet.
“I’m so excited about the program, it’s just so full of love and care for these ladies and we’re going to equip them with a higher education, with counseling…to help them break the cycles. These women are the ones who fall through the cracks because if you’re a mom with drug addiction or alcohol addiction, there’s a place for them. There’s already an agency that’s going to take care of you if you’re battered and need emergency shelter,” Almanza said.
“We’ve run the men’s program and there was no need for women back in the day, and then Shirley called me and asked what are we going to do with these women and children. We realized there’s a need for this now. Jesus House is a needs ministry, not a homeless ministry, but a needs ministry, so we started pursuing it to meet the need.”Donny Kyker, Executive Director of Jesus House.
What comes next?
Now that Jesus House is able to meet the immediate needs of the men and women in their programs, Kyker has his eyes set on the future.
“Talking with the City Council, I asked them one question. When homeless people are sheltered, then where do they go once they start bettering their lives? How can they get help?” Kyker asked. “And they said ‘shelters’. So I asked them, but what comes after that?”
Kyker says the biggest issue facing these families is affordable housing.
“If you want to fix homelessness, you’ve got to fix affordable housing,” Kyker said. “Section 8, the Housing Authority, they’ve got a year and a half to two year waiting list.”
But Jesus House wants to move quicker than that and they have a plan. With a large piece of inherited land, directors now have their eyes set on a new project.
They call the project “His Homes”. The goal? To build 5 duplexes within a gated and secure community across from Jesus House. Renters will be able to lease an affordable, transitional home while continuing to save money.
“What are we gonna do with that land? His Homes will be a model to prove to the City that it works. That you can move a family in, even for a short time and they can save some money and better their lives. They’ve done something to move from point A to point B,” Kyker said.
And it’s not just for moms. Men will have an opportunity to live in His Homes as well.
“We now are seeing a need for men with children. Mom is gone, mom ran off, or mom’s incarcerated. There is nowhere, except the Salvation Army, and they have one room that is always full. So where does he go with his child? He will be able to come to His Homes,” Kyker said.
Kyker not only hopes to build this transitional housing, he also hopes to find builders and banking partners to build low income homes in areas of town that have been neglected and unused. The plan? To allow the families living in the transitional homes to save and one day purchase one of these low cost homes for themselves.
“And I’ll be working with the Council, with builders, with bankers to do this. It’s a huge need, and it all starts with those five duplexes,” Kyker said.
For now, His Homes is just a concept while Jesus House directors work to secure financing.
“It’s been prayed over, you never stop praying. We are going to approach the City over the next couple of weeks. There’s money out there that can be allocated for this. There’s an oil field company that has expressed interest, but until we can get that all squared away, funding is a big need,” said Kyker.
“We really need the City and the community to get behind this,” said Almanza.