For seven years, Steve and Leah have been living in motels while raising their son. Medical issues and the bills that piled up as a result prevented them from working consistently, and they have two evictions on their record. Motel living gives them a roof over their heads, but “it’s stressful there,” says Rick Roberts, founder and executive director of Legacy Grace Community Development Corporation (LGCDC). “There’s a lot of hopelessness and drama at the motels from other families and drugs. It’s survival mode.”
With the help of LGCDC, Steve and Leah are working toward a more secure future. Roberts, who is also a licensed contractor and owner of Resurrection Construction, helped Steve acquire the tools and skills he needs to do construction jobs, as well as a vehicle and other jobs. Meanwhile, Roberts helped Leah, a jewelry artist, secure the supplies she needed to produce and sell more jewelry, as well as places to sell it. Their son, now 16, is doing well in school—he’s on the honor roll—and is looking for a part-time job. “They’ve stabilized a lot,” Roberts says.
Soon, the family will try again to rent their own apartment. (Although they’d saved money for two months rent and a security deposit, and had a co-signer, an apartment complex recently turned them down.) “A lot of people don’t need a lot of help, they just need someone to give them an opportunity,” says Roberts.
Founded in July 2016, LGCDC provides job training, mentoring, and other resources for struggling individuals and families. This March, the nonprofit will close on a group home in Wheat Ridge that Roberts and his business partners will renovate into an apartment complex, which will have nine apartments available. This will allow LGCDC to rent the units to families at more affordable rates.
LGCDC started as a group home for single men, and used to run an art gallery where homeless individuals could display and sell their art. Now, it has shifted its focus to affordable housing for families in Jefferson County. JeffCo, Roberts says, has a high percentage of homeless families, yet fewer resources than Denver to help those families.
“I don’t think most people realize how close they are to being homeless,” Roberts says. “If a medical problem or other event happens in your life, with the cost of rent being what it is now, and with kids to raise, (homelessness) is a lot closer than some people think. If the housing part is in place, there is security and it can take some of the stress away.”
How Families Can Help
- Rent apartments to people who have worked with LGCDC, if you are a landlord. “Give people a chance,” suggests Roberts. “We have resources and will help make sure they are successful.”
- Serve as a mentor to a family or individual.
- Volunteer your technical skills (contractors, electricians, plumbers, painters, etc.) to repair housing units.
- Distribute and/or prepare donated food from grocery stores. Roberts says that sometimes he might get a large donation of bananas that would need to be made into banana bread, so it doesn’t go to waste.