HomeAid, Family Promise dig in for House of Ruth in Tustin
Dirt flew as Tustin City Council members, O.C. philanthropists and business leaders dug golden shovels into the construction site for House of Ruth on May 3. The short-term, transitional housing and community resource center for the unhoused is made possible by Family Promise of Orange County and HomeAid OC partnering with the city of Tustin.
“Homelessness is such an issue that is affecting Tustin, the county of Orange and the entire nation, frankly,” said Tustin Mayor Austin Lumbard. “Each time we can collaborate in a private-public partnership to get something like this done, we are inching toward solutions for homelessness.”
House of Ruth, a two-story, seven-unit apartment complex, will be built on a 18,000-square-foot lot donated by the city of Tustin.
“The city of Tustin is on the forefront of addressing homelessness,” said Lumbard. “We have our Village of Hope, OC Rescue Mission in Tustin, we have our Veterans Outpost on Newport Boulevard. We have a number of other areas where we are trying to address homelessness. I think the House of Ruth is an exciting and potentially new model where cities can partner with private agencies and fundraisers to continue to more forward the fight against homelessness.”
The project is led by Family Promise of Orange County, an organization that mobilizes volunteers from the faith-based community to end homelessness in O.C. by providing wholistic services like emergency shelter, trauma-informed case management, groceries and more. HomeAid Orange County, a nonprofit developer of shelters and affordable housing, will manage construction, and national homebuilder Brookfield Residential is donating resources to the building campaign.
House of Ruth will offer apartment-style housing units, ranging from one to three bedrooms in an effort to support larger and multigenerational families, which can’t always be accommodated by other housing programs.
The site will also contain a community resource center with services like washing machines, computers, credit repair counseling, employment assistance, case management, housing navigation and private bathrooms with showers. Families who don’t live at House of Ruth will be able to access the center, a resource Family Promise of Orange County Executive Director Cyndee Albertson said homeless families in O.C. lack.
“Families that have no place to go right now are pretty limited,” said Albertson, “If the House of Ruth is open, we can house between seven and 11 families that are experiencing homelessness. But more than that, they can come here and give their kids a shower, get laundry done, apply for jobs, get a resume done.”
The groundbreaking included a prayer by Pastor Steve Ranney of the Tustin Presbyterian Church and a performance by St. John’s Lutheran Church of Orange’s choir. Mormon missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints acted as ushers, facilitating the seating of the groundbreaking ceremony and preparing the site the day before.
A number of those who spoke during the groundbreaking ceremony, including Albertson, credited Tustin Presbyterian Church member Bernie Jeltema for originally envisioning the House of Ruth.
“We needed a new home for people in Tustin, and this was the perfect group to get involved with,” Jeltema said of HomeAid and Family Promise. “To see this tremendous outreach just thrills me.”
The building campaign aims to achieve a total of $3.7 million and completion by the summer of 2023.
So far, $3 million has been raised to date with donations from local congregations, foundations, corporations and individuals like Jeltema and his wife, Sally, who donated the first $50,000 to get the project started.
For more information on House of Ruth or to donate, visit familypromiseorangecounty.org.
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