By CCT STAFF
Peoples’ Self-Help Housing is in escrow to purchase a property on North 4th Street in Pismo Beach where they plan to temporary house homeless young adults and to provide low-cost housing. The nonprofit has backed out of its controversial escrow to purchase the Bethel Baptist Church in Grover Beach.
Working under an agreement with the 5 Cities Homeless Coalition, Peoples’ Self-Help Housing recently entered an escrow to purchase a 1.2 acre lot at 855 4th Street in Pismo Beach for $2.9 million. Last month, the homeless coalition purchased a 3,855 square foot building at 100 4th Street in Grover Beach for $875,000, to use as their office space. The coalition is still searching for a property to use as a warming center.
The nonprofits are planning to build 50 units of affordable or temporary housing on the property located near the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets. At a city council meeting on Sept. 17, Pismo Beach City Manager Jim Lewis voiced his support for the project.
“We really believe this is a great site,” Lewis said. “It’s adjacent to transportation, groceries, the freeway. There aren’t surrounding neighborhoods adjacent…really it provides an opportunity for people.”
For 10 years, the homeless coalition has attempted to secure property for offices, a warming center, homeless youth housing, and low-cost housing. Then in April, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted to approve $2.6 million in grant funds for the purchase of the Bethel Baptist Church in Grover Beach.
However, members of the congregation accused those attempting to convert the church into a homeless facility, as supporting the theft of their church.
Bethel Baptist Church’s current pastor John Fleming, the church board, and its members are fighting the Christian & Missionary Alliance (C&MA) over ownership of the 57-year-old church and a 3.1-acre lot valued at $2.9 million.
Representatives of the C&MA claim they legally transferred ownership of the church to their nonprofit, which then decided to close the church and sell the almost $3 million property to the Five Cities Homeless Coalition, with C&MA planning to keep the proceeds.
After learning of the C&MA’s contract to sell the church property to the 5 Cities Homeless Coalition, church elder John Fleming filed state documents showing Bethel Bapist Church owned the property, changed the locks and began holding Sunday services.
Residents of both Grover Beach and Arroyo Grande have voiced opposition to the homeless coalition and several public officials including Supervisor Adam Hill and Grover Beach Councilwoman Mariam Shah, whom they accuse of supporting an attempt to steal the church.