Thomas Rice

The grass is being cut and weeds are being chopped as plans for a village to counter homelessness continue to gain momentum.

Thomas Rice, executive director of Mirakal Loves for Lives, said site plans for Restoration of Hope Village are being developed and should be presented to City Council soon.

The Goldsboro City Council voted 4-1 at its July 12 meeting to approve the rezoning of a 13.6-acre property at 2001 S. Slocumb St. from general business, residential and general industry use to a planned unit development conditional zoning.

The purpose of the homes is to provide transitional housing, job training, mental health services and a sense of security to needy and at-risk groups of people, Rice said.

Mirakal Loves for Lives is a Goldsboro-area nonprofit with a mission to house and care for the homeless.

Since presenting his proposal to the City Council in June, Rice has changed the name of the 40-home village from Mirakals Community Gated Village of Goldsboro to Restoration of Hope Village.

He said Friday that a new website and campaign to fund the homes are in the works.

Rice said he is talking with officials from Goldsboro-based SOS Management to purchase the 13.6-acre property which in 2012 was approved to become a private cemetery known as Seymour Memorial Park.

Part of the property is located within the city’s 100-year and 500-year floodplain, which may involve city engineering requirements, and the property is within the noise overlay zone for Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, which requires Air Force approvals.

Rice said 15% of the property, mainly the back corner of the property, is in a floodplain; however, the majority of the property is out of the floodplain.

In addition to the 40 homes, which would average 900 square feet and include one, two or three bedrooms, Restoration of Hope Village will include on-site security, a park, on-site facilities for medical services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, a dining hall, education and job training, exercise and fitness, housing for pets and private walking trails.

The walking trails and a recreational area are located in the floodplain, Rice said.

Rice did not say how much the 13.6-acre property would cost but said the deal should be finalized next week.

In addition to seeking money from grants to build the homes and the village, Rice is soliciting donations from individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations to build a few starter homes in September.

“An organization or an individual or a business can put in so much money to build one of these houses so we can put a person in it,” Rice said.

Rice insists that revitalizing the South Slocumb Street area will give the community and the homeless population a hand up, not a handout.

“To me and several of the people I’ve talked to, it’s very important because this doesn’t only put the homeless people up, it builds morale in them, builds their self-esteem, it trains them and gets them back to where they have pride in their self again and they can be part of society,” Rice said.

“I look at it like this — everybody is human,” Rice said. “We’re all God’s children, and we need to work together and help one another. We’re making Goldsboro a city where every soul has a home.”

To learn more about Rice’s work or to get involved, call 919-750-4665.