Group pitches project to town

The Lazarus Project discuss who will live in there, types of buildings
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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A nonprofit group wanting to build a low-income rental housing project in presented its project last week. The Lazarus Project and Mercy Housing held the meeting on Feb. 3 at the First United Methodist Church to explain their hope of building a 46-unit development of cottages, duplexes and small homes that will house low-income families and military veterans. Dozens attended the meeting and the discussions were sometimes heated. Residents wanted to know why Loomis was chosen for the project, if funding would be guaranteed, if the development would help fulfill Loomis’ affordable housing requirement, and what type of people would be living there. Trista Durkee, of Orangevale, told the meeting attendees that five years ago she was living in a Lazarus Project group home in Roseville and spent eight months there. “I am the face of homelessness and I lived right here. My kids were in school here,” Durkee said. Durkee said she was living with family locally and her children were attending Franklin Elementary School when the bottom fell out of her world. She said she was unemployed, escaping an abusive marriage, became drug-addicted, and then lost custody of her children. She said she has since recovered and now manages a law office. Durkee said she lives in a nice apartment with her two children who are honor roll students and actively involved in sports and church youth groups. She also volunteers with The Lazarus Project and works part-time for the organization helping singles find affordable housing. Doug Floodman, a former resident of one of Lazarus Project’s group homes, also spoke during the meeting. “I didn’t have any drug or alcohol problems. I had three back surgeries. Family members helped me for as long as they could,” he said. Floodman said he is now back on his feet and works for Eskaton Village in Carmichael. David Loya, Lazarus executive director, told attendees that homelessness in Placer County has almost doubled since 2002. “We have an intensive screening process for residents,” Loya said. During his presentation, Loya said no registered sex offenders would be allowed to live at the site, all residents would be required to undergo an intensive screening process, and they would be required to have legal identification and a Social Security number. “Families, mothers with families, veterans with families and single veterans would live in the facility. We would build eight single-story homes, 23 two-story homes and 15 cottages for extremely and very low income families and veterans,” Loya said. “These are beautiful, Craftsman-style homes with generous open space and we’re going to put in a nice playground,” Loya said. He said tutoring, childcare and after-school activities would be available for children. Adults would receive onsite case management, and services for job readiness, life skills, health and education and training. In a later interview, Loya said Lazarus and Mercy Housing plan to continue communicating with Loomis residents and officials to get more feedback and answer questions. He said they will not be going before the Loomis planning commission in February as originally planned. ---------------------- THE LAZARUS PROJECT What: Nonprofit group offering transitional housing for homeless with services for addictions, domestic abuse, unemployment, credit problems, insufficient education and illness. Where: Four group homes in Roseville Funding: State and federal grants and donations Information: MERCY HOUSING What: Nonprofit group develops, finances and operates affordable, program-enriched housing communities for low-income families, seniors and those with special needs. Where: Predominantly in California Affiliated with the Sisters of Mercy Information: