Live Oak Place: New Affordable Housing for Formerly Homeless Families

Posted by: Lila Anna Sauls

Angelia

Almost 25 years ago a group of caring, concerned, people came together to talk about homeless families in Columbia. They talked about what they needed – not just temporarily, but long term – to permanently get out of the heartbreaking situation they had found themselves in. These caring, concerned, parishioners of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral founded Trinity Housing Corporation, a 501-c-3 with its own board of directors and staff, to take on this task.

Trinity Housing started with a duplex, on Hope Avenue. (When I tell this story people think I made up the street name, it’s so absolutely fitting…) When the City of Columbia offered property on Waites Road in early 1991, St. Lawrence Place was born, and two families became 28.

Over the next two decades the Trinity Housing Corporation Board of Directors and Staff worked diligently to become the best practice in life-changing programs and housing for homeless families.  Through very deliberate planning and growth we became deep – not wide – in our mission and goals through our primary program of St. Lawrence Place. We completed a million dollar rehab of our entire campus four years ago, and last year over 97% of our families went on to permanent housing. What an achievement!

But Trinity Housing wasn’t created all those years ago to stop there. The original dream of helping families long-term is still very much alive. We’ve noticed that our graduates are having a difficult time finding safe, affordable housing for their families – even though they are working and holding steady employment.  The housing they can afford is sub-standard, and nothing you or I would ever want our own families to live in.

So, after several years of careful and deliberate planning, the Trinity Housing Corporation Board and Staff are overjoyed to announce the purchase of the property adjacent to St. Lawrence Place, and our new program, Live Oak Place.

LOP sign

Live Oak Place will be four new duplexes, built for families. They will be safe, affordable, and full of the optimism the one duplex on Hope Avenue provided so many years ago. We consider this a “next step” in the St. Lawrence Place program – families will have access to the programs at St. Lawrence Place such as child care and case management, but they will not be held accountable to as many rules as the SLP program entails.  This is their chance to try their wings…we’ll be there to catch them if they fall, but we’ll also proudly watch as they fly away.

With this announcement also comes the promise from the Board and Staff that we will not jeopardize St. Lawrence Place or its financial stability.  We have taken on this project only after careful, thoughtful planning. The purchase and construction will be completed with financial contributions from a diverse funding base, including Wells Fargo and Bank of America corporations, generous individuals and churches, and the new Midlands Housing Trust Fund.  It will be completed in the same way the rehab of SLP was done years ago.

MHTF sign

Please share our joy and excitement as we enter this new phase at Trinity Housing Corporation. Stop by for a tour of SLP and LOP, and hear all about our plans to help our families go from homelessness to home!