Sometimes, a ‘Global Force for Good’ starts in our own backyard. Have you ever wondered what was happening to the closed bases, no longer required for military needs? Read on:
12/18/2009 – SACRAMENTO. Calif. (AFNS) — In California, as the temperature drops and the number of homeless people climbs, former Air Force bases around the state offer warm relief. Transitional housing is one of the many ways communities are using property on closed military bases for local benefit.
These villages of hope offer the homeless, out-of-work population a chance to learn new skills while living in clean and safe transitional housing. Riverside County alone had 11,000 homeless people this year and a 13% unemployment rate, according to a May article in The Press Enterprise. In Sacramento, 2,800 homeless were tallied in the January 2009 annual count conducted by Sacramento County officials, amounting to an estimated 4,910 homeless over the course of the year. In October, Sacramento County’s unemployment rate was 12.6%.
Path of Life Ministries, a non-profit, offers transitional housing at the former March Air Force Base, now the March Air Reserve Base, in Moreno Valley in Riverside County. POLM officials operate a 54-unit, 142-bed facility serving families and single, chronically homeless women.
“We stay full,” says Leonard Jarman, transitional housing manager. “The economy is affecting people who weren’t normally considered at risk. The face of homelessness has changed somewhat.”
Many living at the remodeled March ARB barracks are working, he said, but can’t afford permanent housing. The POLM program, at the base since 2007, helps participants get the skills and training they need to get back on their feet.
In Sacramento, a homeless rehabilitation program called Mather Community Campus has been operating since 1995 in former military barracks at what was Mather AFB until the base closed in 1993. The program offers temporary housing for homeless single adults and families “who believe employment is an essential part of their new life,” according to the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance Web site.
Students live in what are described as “private, roomy” accommodations with bath and showers. Singles eat three meals a day in a community dining room, while families have kitchens for meal preparation. In addition to job training, students can participate in daily support groups emphasizing addiction recovery, parenting skills, budgeting and housing.