Serving Up a Second Chance Through Affordable Housing Options

By Tara Fort

Jessi Hans, Executive Director of the Coalition for Compassion and Justice (CCJ) is on a mission to move people in the Prescott area from homelessness into affordable creative housing options. Hans, who has lived in Prescott since 2005 and has served as Executive Director with CCJ for three years, loves the innovative nature of her work and the environment within her staff. “The work we do is a real reflection of how we live, grow and create a community with each other.” Hans’s passion is evident in empowering others to be their best and credits her team for the collective synergy at work. She says, “Our dynamic ability to achieve more as a team than we ever could do alone bleeds into our lives outside of work.  I am crazy about optimizing our impact through streamlining outreach approaches, finances, and facilities. The mission at CCJ has provided great satisfaction, and we are beginning to see the fruits of those decisions. We do work that creates value in so many lives, and people trust us with their lives.”

Among the top goals of CCJ is the continuance to provide dignified ways to assist clients through a seamless transition from homelessness and poverty into their highest potential for an affordable living—made possible through a model of incremental growth toward homeownership. And now, this growth has taken on new heights—from RVs and mobile homes to cottages and tiny houses, to a broader partnership with Dorn Homes called The Lodge—CCJ is paving the way to a brighter future for those who might otherwise not have had those opportunities before. Currently, CCJ has 15 units of RV, mobile home and cottage units. The collaboration with Dorn Homes and partners will soon create two Lodges in mid-year of 2020, fully funded by Dorn and their trade partners. Jim Gunby, Vice-President of Sales and Acquisition with Dorn Homes, states, “CCJ has a heart for the homeless. They are a low threshold shelter, and anyone is welcome there. We selected them because we felt we could work with them, and so far it’s been absolutely great. What this project will do for the community and CCJ provides an effort toward ending homelessness in the Prescott area. Being a transition home means that folks can go from a shelter into our transition home and into a rental or full-time housing once they get their life together and move toward a more fulfilling future. This will also help CCJ, in particular, break the pattern of homelessness.” Hans agrees that offering innovative options will offer a wide appeal, both for clients and for supporters, and states, “We’re very creative with our intention to provide housing possibilities that create a stair-step into the broader living.” In addition, CCJ is also laying foundational plans to create a small campground for those who prefer outdoor living. Hans says, “The idea of a beautiful, quaint way of living that helps people to find comfort and safety fulfills a need in Prescott.”

“I like having a roof over my head the most, because I like having my own space and having a place to call my own. CCJ has impacted my life in amazing ways. I’ve grown as a person and an individual and collective member of society. Before (CCJ) I was homeless with no job and now I have a home, a job, a purpose and a new outlook on life.” – James

In 2015, CCJ acquired 11 units in a local trailer park, and it continues to maintain those mobiles today supplemented by donations of new units and occasionally leasing to renters who transition to ownership.  In 2018, the Cottage concept was introduced offering CCJ’s most cost-effective housing. This model consists of tinier houses or an extended room situated behind the main home. And now, with the innovative launch of the Lodge, CCJ will offer a multi-resident home for four to six individuals who will each have a private room, porch, and exit to model the feeling of a personal apartment, yet all under one roof. In the Lodge, residents will gather in a shared living space fostering social interaction.  The anticipated success of this model will help CCJ break new ground and is expected to be met with open arms. Says Gunby, “We did another similar project in Green Valley which was well-received, so not only do we remodel and build homes, we also have a tremendous heart for this population and have worked with other fine charities over years, both statewide and locally.”

“I live in a trailer with my girlfriend Suzy. We were both homeless once. The privacy that we have now is probably what I like the most about being in a home. CCJ has helped me regain what I once had, mainly self-respect and dignity.  Don’t look for greener grass on the other side of the fence, plant the grass yourself and make what you have green and grow. It just takes a little work. Don’t ever give up.” – Chris

CCJ is funded completely by local donors, grants and foundations, and Hans values the ways the community lends a hand.  Kelly Mattox, Family Resource Center Coordinator / Homeless Liaison at Prescott Unified School District has worked with Hans on several community-focused projects including the holiday play Hannah’s Heart and a back-to-school supply drive supporting students in need. Says Mattox, “While in our professions Jessi and I work with different demographics experiencing homelessness, our paths often cross and we work well together. CCJ is a dependable, caring Community Partner.”   In addition to professional support resources, Hans acknowledges the community support that comes in all forms and says, “We love when small groups deliver dinner to our shelter guests in the evening.” Donations of all kinds to the thrift store are also welcome.  She adds that CCJ gives out close to $20,000 worth of merchandise to those in need through their voucher program and that, “Financial support is also a great way to enhance our continued work and inspire enhanced giving.”  Hans has seen the ideals that have discredited the homeless sector for many decades and embrace the work she does that creates value in human lives. “We have received so much support and we are excited to inch closer to end homelessness here. Placing 45 individuals in housing options last year was amazing, but the day that no one needs emergency shelter will be the BEST day ever!”

For more information about Jessi Hans and the innovative products CCJ is embracing to end homelessness in Prescott contact 928-237-3808 or visit or