In 1991, the Homeless Task Force of Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church alerted its neighboring faith-based communities to the growing crisis of homelessness in Contra Costa County, particularly for families with special needs. Fifteen congregations responded by forming a coalition: Contra Costa Interfaith Transitional Housing (CCITH). CCITH began educating its congregations about homelessness in Contra Costa County. Soon thereafter, the charter member congregations incorporated as a nonprofit entity. With support from its member congregations, CCITH launched a capital campaign and purchased Garden Park Apartments in Pleasant Hill. In 2000, CCITH added Mercy Housing as a development partner and co-sponsor. With unprecedented cooperation and commitment of faith-based and other community partners, they ultimately raised $5M from public and private sources for the project.
While Garden Park Apartments was in development, the county completed an analysis of housing needs in Contra Costa. The lack of permanent, affordable housing was identified as the most critical gap in resources. The county also found that families living in shelters and transitional housing were often forced to return to homelessness because of the shortage in permanent affordable housing options.
In response to this critical need, the CCITH Board of Directors revised its mission from developing transitional housing to that of providing permanent affordable housing with on-site support services. The agency’s “doing business name” was changed to Contra Costa Interfaith Housing (CCIH) in order to reflect the new mission.
CCIH and Mercy Housing California completed the renovations at Garden Park Apartments and the program opened to 27 formerly homeless families, all with special needs, in December 2004. Mercy Services Corporation manages the facility; CCIH provides services to support stability, self-sufficiency and a healthy community for children. A newly expanded HEDCO Community Center at Garden Park Apartments opened in December 2013 to provide extra space for youth and adult learning, a designated computer room, and offices that offer privacy and dignity for residents who access support services. The expansion included an additional two bedroom unit to benefit formerly homeless families for years to come.
In 2010, CCIH partnered with Resources for Community Development (RCD), a local affordable housing developer. This partnership was formed because of the county’s identified need for support services in East Contra Costa. With the accelerating rate of impoverished families in East County, CCIH responded by bringing support services to residents living at RCD’s affordable housing complexes: the Bella Monte Apartments in Bay Point and at Los Medanos Village in Pittsburg.
In 2012, the CCIH partnership with RCD expanded further with the development of another support services program at Lakeside Apartments in Concord.
In 2012, in response to a request by the county, and in partnership with Contra Costa County’s HIV/AIDS program, CCIH added an HIV/AIDS Housing Advocacy Program. CCIH’s Housing Advocate works to assist vulnerable clients to find and keep permanent housing.
In 2015, a Scattered Site Supportive Housing program was launched. CCIH master leases units and a mobile service team of case managers regularly visit residents to help them achieve their greatest potential. CCIH hopes to continue to expand this program in years ahead.