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Churches Work To Fight Homelessness By Building In 'God's Backyard'

WOODLAND (CBS13) — A new movement to tackle California's homeless problem has churches building in God's backyard.

The non-profit group Friends of the Mission owns a piece of property in Woodland. They are working with another non-profit that got started after a pastor had an idea.

Together, the two groups are working to build housing for the homeless. People of faith, and churches specifically, are beginning to tackle homelessness in a more tangible way.

"It is at the very heart of Jesus called us to do and what the old testament prophets called us to do," said Pastor Larry Love of Disciples of Christ.

Pastor Love said about four years ago, he told his congregation he wanted to do something. Soon after, a group was born. The Woodland Opportunity Village is a non-profit working to build housing for the homeless.

"Our focus, the people were seeking to serve, are people who have some income but who just can't afford the rent here in Woodland," said Pastor Love.

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They're working on a six-unit duplex of tiny one-bedroom houses with anticipated rents of less than $600 a month.

Jeanne Sirmon says the project could help someone like her get out of life in a shelter.

"That would be a bargain considering what rents are for just two rooms. That would be affordable I think for most people who have even a small income," said Sirmon.

The proposed site is at the corner of Freeman Street and Kentucky, but final plans for the project have not been submitted to the city.

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Though technically the groups involved are non-profits, the genesis of the idea started within the walls of this church. And it now appears more of the faithful believe they can help provide practical solutions to a growing problem.

"I think maybe just more and more of us are waking up to the fact of the reality that we can be a part of this," said Love.

"I think it's a good first step. Isn't that what the Bible teaches. Love your neighbor, free the hungry, house the poor," said Sirmon.

Before they can break ground, plans need to be officially submitted and approved. And about $1.2 million need to be raised. But Pastor Love is optimistic and says it's possible to complete the project in about a year.

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