Transformation Village Breaks Ground

ABCCM Board members break ground and sling dirt onto the ground of the future location of the Transformation Village, which will be built at 45 Rocky Ridge Road in Asheville.

Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM) on Thursday, June 29, broke ground at Transformation Village, a building project that will transform the landscape of homelessness in Buncombe County and allow hundreds of women and children to move from hopelessness to self-sufficiency.

When complete, Transformation Village will be one of the largest emergency, transitional and permanent supportive housing facilities in North Carolina. 

Nearly 80 members of the community, including legislative, government and community representatives; builders, architects and subcontractors; local clergy; along with ABCCM volunteers, board members, donors to the Transformation Village capital campaign, staff and others attended the groundbreaking at the 24-acre site, which ABCCM purchased in 2015 and is located at 45 Rocky Ridge Road near the Asheville Outlets on Brevard Road. 

“Thanks to our churches, our volunteers and all of you who are sharing your strength to solve a major community problem,” said Reverend Scott Rogers, ABCCM’s executive director. “Our goal is to end homelessness in the Asheville area,” said Bob Rogers, an ABCCM board member and chairman of the Transformation Village capital campaign. “This is a huge step in making that happen. Once we get Transformation Village completed, we think we can end homelessness in the entire area on a permanent basis because of the training and the programs that we have in place.”

To date ABCCM has raised nearly $4 million towards the Transformation Village project’s $7.5 million goal for Phase I. Funding is in place to build the project. 

Transformation Village -a transitional living facility named by Steadfast House residents in 2011 in recognition of the transformative impact it will have on the lives of its residents and the community as a whole -is ABCCM’ s vision to end homelessness for women, children and families. It will provide homeless individuals and families with a safe and secure living space, along with the skills they need to take steps to successfully move on with stable income and in their own home.

The facility will eventually replace ABCCM’ s Steadfast House, which has a waiting list of more than 300 women and children. Steadfast House is a 43-bed transitional living facility for homeless women and children, including 10 beds for female veterans, all of whom will move to Transformation Village when it opens.

Phase I of the project includes the construction of a 43,000 square foot community center that will include 33 short-term apartments with a total of 90 beds. In addition, the community center will feature a central kitchen, dining area, training classrooms and client intake offices. 

Construction of 20 modular two-bedroom apartments will be done concurrently. Phase I is expected to be complete in Fall 2018. At that time Steadfast House will transfer operations to Transformation Village and residents will move into the new apartments.

Phase II will create neighborhoods across the site for provide transitional, supportive housing to groups such as mother, single fathers, intact families, survivors of domestic violence and female veterans. Transformation Village will also include outdoor green space with play areas for children and an indoor educational playroom. 

Once open, residents of Transformation Village will receive the same education and training opportunities, life-skills classes, case management support to move to self-sustainability and permanent housing, and basic necessities such as food, clothing and shelter as current residents of Steadfast House do. 

Transformation Village will mirror ABCCM’s Veterans Restoration Quarters (VRQ), a 248-bed transitional living facility for homeless male veterans. The VRQ opened in 2008 and has since supported thousands of Preliminary site development including tree removal, land grading and the creation of a service road has been completed. ABCCM has issued the contract to install sewer lines and all required pre-construction inspections and permits have been completed.

According to numbers recently released by the City of Asheville, there was a 10 percent increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness in 2017. The national Point-in-Time count, which is conducted at the end of January each year and is led by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development office, found 562 people experiencing homelessness, compared to 509 in 2016. 

“We have been so pleased with the work that ABCCM has done in the city for years in many different areas and this is a really big kicker,” said Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell. “From seven years on council, working toward affordable housing and working toward ending homelessness, it’s a monumental task and it takes the whole community together. I’m really excited about this project, speaking for the mayor and other council members as well. This is important.” 

Other speakers included Cindy Messer of A-B Tech’s Workforce Continuing Education; Jessica Stavish of Genesis Alliance and the Kiwanis Club; ABCCM board members Reverend Gerald Davis, Julie Singleton and Reverend Calvin Hailstock; Angela Catania, the director of Steadfast House and eventually Transformation Village; and Sheila Price, a veteran and Steadfast House resident. 

For more information go to www.abccm.org/transformation-village. To donate, go to www .abccm.org/donate

About Shelby Harrell

Shelby Harrell is the news editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment publication and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for more than six years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.