As the number of people in the Tri-Valley experiencing homelessness has increased in recent years, so have local efforts to support those who are unhoused.
Livermore, in particular, has prioritized bringing in more affordable housing including the Vineyard 2.0 project that is currently under construction and the Goodness Village tiny home community that operates on the Crosswinds Church property.
A temporary warming center for unhoused residents through the winter and early spring also opened in Livermore last month as a partnership between the Livermore Area Recreation and Park District, nonprofit One Nation Dream Makers and Alameda County Supervisor David Haubert's Office.
The Eden Housing affordable development planned for downtown -- which has been stalled due to litigation -- is another ongoing effort to bring more housing options to low-income residents.
In addition to the number of initiatives that are already underway, Asbury United Methodist Church is exploring another potential project that would bring additional permanent supportive housing to the city.
According to Asbury's lead pastor, Rev. Kathy La-Point Collup, the church is in the process of discussing and researching the possibility of building a tiny home development on its property located at 4743 East Ave. in Livermore.
"Asbury is a church that's really committed to the wellbeing of the community and we believe we need to be active in applying our faith to daily life," she told the Weekly in a recent interview. "We really believe that we are trying to spread God's love by helping to improve the community and helping the community to address its needs," she added.
She also cited compassion as a core value of the church, which includes "doing what we can to help those who are less fortunate rise up out of poverty and out of difficult situations so that they might have a more abundant life," she said.
Asbury has a history of working with those who need extra support such as the shower and laundry services they offer unhoused residents three days a week. The church partners with the city of Livermore for the shower ministry and the Unitarian Universalist Church in Livermore for the laundry ministry.
While La-Point Collup emphasized that the idea for a tiny home project on the church grounds is only in the exploration phase at this time, she clarified that the location in mind is owned by the church and is zoned and suitable for this type of development.
The church has been in conversation with Firm Foundation Community Housing, a Hayward-based organization that helps landowners transform their underutilized property into tiny home villages.
Asbury currently leases half of the 5-acre parcel behind the sanctuary to local nonprofit Fertile Groundworks and the other half is empty.
"Over the years, Asbury's explored different things that we might do with the property but none of the things seemed to line up. There was always a challenge or a problem that couldn't be overcome but this is looking like it might be a possibility," La-Point Collup said of the potential tiny home project.
However, she noted there are a lot of approvals and benchmarks that need to be met along the way before the idea can become a reality. She also said the project would not happen without a partnership with a social service agency.
"Establishing a Tiny Home community is a very complicated process so we are being thorough in our research and moving through it slowly to understand how each decision that is made is affected by other aspects of the project," La-Point Collup told Livermore Vine in an email.
The possibility of the project has been making its way through the community and was even brought up in public comment by residents at a recent Planning Commission meeting. La-Point Collup said that news of the possible project was initially shared in a letter from the church back in May of 2022, notifying its neighbors that the idea was being discussed.
She said that in the letter, they advised that they would inform the neighbors throughout the process as decisions were made but the church has not yet formally met with the neighbors because they have not gone beyond exploration and research.
Since then, the church has received some pushback from community members. "Once people get housing, they're no longer homeless. People seem to not understand that," La-Point Collup said.
She explained that some of the concerns she's heard have been based on rumors or misconceptions related to the size and scope of the project and who owns the land.
"We've received some phone calls and I've shared some things they didn't know about the property like that it's zoned for housing and owned by Asbury," she said. "I've also put to rest some rumors, like we're not talking about building 50 tiny homes -- it's a lot less than that if we do it," she added.
If the project does move forward, they're looking at roughly 12 to 17 tiny homes. "Strong communities care for the vulnerable among them. This has been a quality of Livermore which we hope will continue," La-Point Collup said.
According to Alameda County's 2022 Point in Time Count, at least 242 Livermore community members experience homelessness, 174 of whom are unsheltered.