“The Welcome Home”, located next to Christ Ministry Center (CMC), is a 3-bedroom, 2-bath 1,750 sq. ft. home with detached garage on a corner lot. It is a former parsonage owned by CMC but rented out for the past 20 years.
The Fire Marshall instructed CMC and Safe Harbors to close the “shelter” in the CMC building by October 1, 2019, due to numerous unmet code requirements. The financially prohibitive modifications (sprinkler system, all new interior and exterior doors, 24-hour fire walk, etc.) required to meet code led us to relocate our church shelter to a residence on our campus, which we now call “The Welcome Home”.
The move for the refugees from the CMC building to the parsonage property was not an easy or inexpensive one. Although CMC owned the old 1945 parsonage, it had been rented out for at least the last 20 years and was in much more disrepair than we realized. When we got inside to look at the building after the tenants moved out, we were stunned by the amount of damage and problems we faced, and had to fall back and reconsider whether this was even a feasible idea to pursue. Fortunately, with the money from several grants, we decided to step out on faith and establish “The Welcome Home”.
The immediate problems were a junk filled house and yard; a houseful of roaches and rats; a crushed sewer system; mold, lead and asbestos everywhere; 75 year old plumbing and electrical; broken windows and doors; and homeless drifters had moved in during the 24 hours following the tenants moving out.
The most expensive items were the mold/lead/asbestos remediation; the outside siding; the electrical upgrades and repair; the numerous plumbing issues; all new windows and doors; and installation of a heating system and air conditioning (which the house never had initially). Amazingly, God (and our financial partners) helped us in so many ways, and we were able (once the mold/lead/asbestos was removed and the vermin problems annihilated) to move the first few refugees into the Welcome Home in late September, and we worked around them on the other repairs and improvements.
We are in a much better position to meet the needs of migrants for potentially years to come. The Welcome Home is a better opportunity for our immigrants. They have an additional dedicated shower and toilet than in the CMC building, in addition to a spacious, fully equipped kitchen with two large, dedicated refrigerators. There is also a fenced yard for the refugee children to play, and cribs for babies.
The Welcome Home provides 16-18 beds in a residence, which is much better than housing in a church building. Yet with its proximity to CMC, the migrants have access to our food pantry, clothes closet, free medical clinics, spiritual support from one of our 10 congregations and new counseling center, and care provided by our Immigration Manager. Through our partnership with International Rescue Committee (IRC), each of our refugee clients receive case work. And through the local American Bar Association’s Immigration Justice Project, each has access to a pro bono immigration attorney.
With your help, we will operate “The WELCOME Home” as a neighborhood residence in San Diego for years to come. Here is your opportunity to do something to help the overcrowded migrant detention shelters and inhumane conditions so many are facing?