With the need in Greenville for affordable and transitional housing continuing to grow, Grace Church’s $16 million purchase this month of apartment buildings from Greenville Technical College is a significant step forward.
According to LeeAnne Cavin, Grace’s director of care and recovery ministry and executive housing director, acquiring the Campus Pointe Apartments at Greenville Technical College will help the church’s Front Porch Housing ministry make a significant impact on the lives of some of the county’s most vulnerable residents.
Cavin explains that what started three years ago as an effort to help a church member with transitional housing has blossomed into a mature ministry involving hundreds of members and partnering community organizations.
“We want to be a church that when you have a crisis, you can reach out to us,” she says. “We recognize that nothing that we have was created for us — we need to have open hands with what we’ve been given.”
The purchase of the buildings from the Greenville Tech Foundation allows the church to substantially expand its housing ministry to serve more people and not just church members, Cavin says.
Of the four buildings purchased, one will remain dedicated to student housing for one year. Beyond that, Cavin says the ministry will consult with students, Greenville Tech faculty and other stakeholders to determine the need for continued student housing at the apartment complex.
In the interim, the other three buildings will give Front Porch Housing 87 apartments committed to single-room occupancy.
Cavin explains there will be a mix of four-bedroom, four-bath options with a shared common space and two-bedroom, two-bath units primarily designated for single parents. The units are meant to provide safe and secure transitional housing for up to three years. Rent is based on the unit available. For example, most three-bedroom units average $350-400 per month per room, depending on whether it has a shared or private bath.
Cavin adds that most of the 48 residents served by the ministry in three years have been single mothers.
The new buildings will allow the ministry to serve men and women, individuals and families. For example, some four-bedroom units will go to families with multiple members, whereas others will see each bedroom rented to either all men or all women.
The ministry is working with Miracle Hill Ministries, SWITCH, Jasmine Road, Safe Harbor, and the Greenville Homeless Alliance, among others, to identify potential residents. An application and screening process is required to be eligible for housing through the ministry.
Cavin says the wraparound services the ministry provides residents are meant to address a “crisis of connection” and provide ongoing support to help residents achieve independence and success.
Among those services are educational classes taught by Grace member volunteers in subjects like financial literacy and budgeting, health and wellness, and resume and job interview skills.
Cavin says the enthusiastic response from church members is a major reason the church made such a significant investment in the Front Porch Housing ministry and why the ministry has been able to expand substantially in just three years.
‘Our members are responding with real open hearts,” she says. “This is not an effort to expand our church, but it is an effort to live out what we believe.”
For more information on the Front Porch Housing ministry, visit GraceChurchSC.org/housing.
Front Porch Housing fast facts:
- Grace Church has 14 dedicated staff members supporting the Care and Recovery and Outreach Support ministries.
- Currently, 152 weekly volunteers serve the 37 adults and 32 children being served in the program.
- The ministry has received 124 housing applications since 2020.
Ministry services offered through community partners:
- Medical coverage for primary care physicians is offered to residents through Palmetto Proactive.
- Dental care is offered through Holliday Dental and Ellett & Watson.
- A savings matching program is provided in partnership with Self-Help Credit Union.
- Mental health support is provided through a 24-hour crisis line, and counseling services through National Center of Performance Health.
- Car maintenance and oil changes provided through Eberts AAMCO Services.