5 Cities Homeless Coalition buys new headquarters while housing hub is still in limbo

Nonprofit group 5 Cities Homeless Coalition has bought a new office space from which it plans to offer services to homeless people in South County.

The organization recently closed escrow on a property at 100 South Fourth St. in Grover Beach, executive director Janna Nichols confirmed in an email to The Tribune on Monday.

“The purchase of this building ensures a stable location from which 5Cities Homeless Coalition and its many partners will continue to provide assistance to those who are homeless or facing homelessness in the South County, in particular expanding services to an underserved and growing population of homeless young people,” Nichols wrote in the email.

The organization is currently housed out of an office space at 1566 West Grand Ave. in Grover Beach.

The new Fourth Street property will act as a headquarters for the organization.

All of its services currently offered at the Grand Avenue location will be available at the new spot, as well as expanded services for homeless youths and young adults. Some of those services include case management, financial assistance, re-housing and homeless prevention programs.

Hillside Church still up in air

Nichols said the organization used $1 million of Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) grant funding to purchase the Fourth Street property.

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors approved $2.6 million in HEAP funding for the 5 Cities Homeless Coalition in April.

At the time, the group was pursing a controversial plan to build a housing navigation center at Hillside Church in Grover Beach that would include transitional housing and a youth dormitory.

Neighbors hotly contested the proposed project, saying it wasn’t an appropriate fit for a residential neighborhood.

Since then, that project has lingered in litigation limbo, due to confusion over who actually owns the property.

Members of Hillside Church, formerly Bethel Baptist Church, claimed in May that the property was never properly transferred to the church’s most recent owners, Christian Missionary Alliance, so the organization did not have the rights to sell the property to 5 Cities Homeless Coalition.

“We were outraged and we began to form a church-in-exile that very afternoon,” church member John Fleming told The Tribune in May, referring to the day Christian Missionary Alliance announced the church was being sold.

Fleming filed paperwork in court around that time to return ownership of the church to the new Bethel Baptist congregation. If successful, he said, the church property would not be sold to 5 Cities Homeless Coalition.

That ownership dispute is ongoing.

On Monday, Nichols said 5 Cities Homeless Coalition is still in escrow for the Hillside Church property. Because it seems like it will be stuck in litigation for some time, the group actively looking for other sites for the remaining portions of the project, she said.

“We continue to work with People’s Self-Help Housing on the two additional components of the HEAP project for development of affordable housing, and operation of a winter warming center and welcome the support of the broader community in bringing these project components to fruition,” Nichols said.

She said there is no time frame for 5 Cities Homeless Coalition’s move into its Fourth Street office, noting that some tenant improvements have to be made before the organization can make the move.

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Kaytlyn Leslie writes about business and development for The San Luis Obispo Tribune. Hailing from Nipomo, she also covers city governments and happenings in the South County region, including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach. She joined The Tribune in 2013 after graduating from Cal Poly with her journalism degree.