It’s been an eventful period for Brown County Home Solution’s Legacy Village — a project to help the homeless of Brown County — thanks to the work of dozen volunteers with the Texas Baptist Men.

Volunteers with the group — who bill themselves as “retiree builders building for the glory of God” — have constructed the exteriors of two structures consisting of a single residence and a duplex. The group, which began working on the Legacy Village structures on Sept. 10, leaves Saturday morning.

Legacy Village, on the grounds of the former Avenue D Baptist Church in Brownwood, will eventually consist of 16 small homes. The property is at the corner of Avenue D and Durham. It is one of 18 agencies supported by the Brown County United Way and also relies on donations and grants.

One of the structures built by the Texas Baptist Men is a one-bedroom 475-square-foot residence and is “in the dry.” The volunteers were working Thursday to get the other structure in the dry and hoped to have it that far by the time they leave Saturday morning, Texas Baptist Men representatives said.

That structure is a duplex. One side of the duplex will be a one-bedroom residence, while the other side will consist of a two-bedroom residence.

Earlier this year, volunteers from Coggin Avenue Baptist Church completed Legacy Village’s first structure.

That structure, in addition to the two structures under construction by the Texas Baptist Men, comprise Phase I of Legacy Village, Brown County Home Solutions representatives said. 

‘A viable project’

Angelia Bostick, who was Brown County Home Solutions’ first executive director, stepped down last month. Jessica Willey is serving as interim executive director, a job that could become permanent for Willey. 

“When I was hired two years ago — actually Sept. 1 was two years — my job was to see if this could go, if the community wanted it, and was it a viable project we could make work?” Bostick said. And we see that it is, so I am passing on the leadership to Jessica. I have fulfilled what I was hired to do and I am passing on the keys, so to speak, the leadership, to Jessica and her capable hands.

“I have fulfilled what I was hired to do and now Jessica is taking the next step.”

Glenn Williamson, a member of the 11-person Brown County Home Solutions board, said “dried in” in the construction phase refers to the walls and roof being up and electrical being run.

“What it means to me is that the rain can’t get in,” Bostick said.

Tasks to be completed after the dried in phase include insulation, dry wall, paint, cabinets and fixtures, Williamson said.

‘A helping hand up’

  Bostick said Brown County Home Solutions’ mission is “to help the homeless of Brown County.”

Legacy Village is not intended as “a long-term housing solution,” Willey said. “It’s not a hand out, it’s a helping hand up.”

Williamson said the purpose is to help get someone “on your feet, where you can take care of yourself. … we’re building for people who are interested in improving their situation and need a little bit of help.”

The definition of “homeless” is taken from the federal McKinney-Vento Act of 1987, Bostick said. The act defines the homeless to include people living in shelters or whose primary nighttime residence is a public or private place not designed for habitation, she said.

Bostick said some people, like a turtle on its back, “just need somebody to turn them on their feet again.”

Rules for residents

Potential Legacy Village tenants must be residents of Brown County, will undergo a criminal background check — no sex offenders will be housed in Legacy Village — and will sign a one-year lease and pay rent, a Legacy Village brochure states.

Tenants will be expected to “work toward self-sufficiency and address the issues that led to their homelessness,” and will be required to help the residences and property clean, the brochure states.

“We’re wanting to create a community,” Brown County Home Solutions board chairwoman Toni Hill said. The residences will have front porches because “we want them (outside),” Hill said. “We want them talking. We want them to learn from each other, make friendships and connections, support each other.”

The timeline for completing the two structures started by the Texas Baptist Men will depend on “the manpower and the funds,” Willey said.

‘They show up’

Willey said she believes in the slogan that Brownwood “feels like home. A big piece of that is, we have a community that has a good heart and they want to help. If there’s a way that they can help, they will. They show up.”

Bostick said Willey “is going to be incredible. She’s really going to take us to the next level and lead us. I’m excited about her being here.”

Willey, who started working Monday as executive director, said she is “driven by challenges, and I am internally motivated to overcome challenges and to help others, and to meet needs.”

Willey said Brown County Home Solutions has “made such huge, huge headway. I’m doing everything that I can to make sure that we just keep moving forward.”