Stanislaus County nonprofit plans to build mini houses for the homeless, farmworkers

Adults turning their lives around could start building prefabricated mini houses at Faith Home Teen Challenge south of Ceres.

Stanislaus County’s planning commission is set Thursday evening to consider the application to expand vocational training at Faith Home Teen Challenge to include construction of micro homes. The proposal would amend the use of a men’s community care facility in the 6600 block of Faith Home Road.

Rick Souza, executive director of Faith Home Teen Challenge, said the faith-based program for adults 18 and older is working with Stanislaus Equity Partners and R-3 (Rehabilitation, Restoration, Respite) to build micro homes for the homeless, farmworkers and other people in need.

Souza said from six to eight program participants will construct about four mini homes per month. The plans include 400-, 600- and 800-square-foot dwellings.

The Faith Home Road site was an orphanage for boys in the 1920s and later became Faith Home Teen Ranch, a center for teenage boys. Teen Challenge purchased the 35-acre site in 2004 and today provides counseling, job training and housing for adults who come out of jail, are homeless or struggling with alcohol or substance use.

The adults come from Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Merced, Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. Other training on-site includes farming and beekeeping. Vocational training also is offered off-site at businesses in Stanislaus and Merced counties.

The nonprofit program has a 6,000-square-foot agricultural storage building for constructing mini homes weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The county application won’t increase Teen Challenge’s program capacity of 30 men.

Souza said the expanded vocational program, if approved, should be able to build the modules for at least 40 mini homes a year.

“There is such a need for micro homes,” Souza said. “I think it’s very important to help teach someone a trade and vocation, so when they are out of the program, they can get a job and support a family, and maybe buy a home someday.”

Stanislaus Equity Partners, a community development corporation, has a number of mini-home projects in the works. Souza said Teen Challenge will be paid for building the prefabricated homes to cover its costs. He said Teen Challenge hopes to have arrangements with other organizations to build micro homes for agricultural workers.

“We are working on funding options,” Souza said. “We will build for whatever the market is.”

As a condition of approval, the county is requiring a restroom modification and a break room for the proposed manufacturing building, plus six additional parking spaces.

According to a county staff report, the plan is not expected to increase vehicle traffic much. About 13 round trips per day are projected for Teen Challenge staff and two round-trips per month for trucks transporting mini homes.

The Stanislaus County Planning Commission will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday in the basement chambers of Tenth Street Place, 1010 St., Modesto.