The Community First Village in Austin, Texas

image from: www.shareable.net/blog/austin-to-shelter-homeless-in-a-tiny-house-village

image from: www.shareable.net/blog/austin-to-shelter-homeless-in-a-tiny-house-village

This week is the American Thanksgiving holiday. As we sit in our nice warm homes, stuffing ourselves with fat birds and planning our Black Friday mode of attack… well, you know, there are those less fortunate who are huddling under cardboard boxes not too far from where we live. (Sometimes I can even see them in the back alley.)

That said, this unorthodox planned village in East Austin, Texas gives me great hope and optimism about the human race.

image from: samuel-warde.com

image from: samuel-warde.com

Community First! Village [don't forget the !] is a 27 acre community that is being built to provide affordable housing in a supportive environment for the disabled and homeless in central Texas. The village is meant to be a sustainable project complete with a community garden, wood-working shop, medical/mental health center and even a movie theatre.

The idea is to give men and women living on the streets not only a permanent roof over their heads, but also a built-in community. Remarkably, it is being funded entirely by private money.

image from: mlf.org/community-first

image from: mlf.org/community-first

The village resembles a funky RV campground  – there are a couple of Airstreams and even a tee-pee!

image from: www.shareable.net/blog/

image from: www.shareable.net/blog/

The project is organized by the Austin not-for-profit Mobile Loaves and Fishes whose plight it is to deliver meals to homeless people.

The Community First! Village has the backing of the mayor and local business owners. Community leaders believe that it will help alleviate the crush of homeless folks in the downtown core, and give the less fortunate a chance to experience a stable home and mutually supportive neighbors.

In order to promote a safe and secure environment, the village will be a “gated community” where only residents and registered guests can enter.

image from: http://samuel-warde.com

image from: http://samuel-warde.com

But these are not free flop houses. Rather, they each have a monthly rental fee based on the size of the house and amenities within. For example, the “tent” only rents for $50 a month but the more permanent structures rent for upwards of $375 a month.

image from: http://samuel-warde.com

image from: http://samuel-warde.com

image from: samuel-warde.com

image from: samuel-warde.com

The people who live here must have jobs to pay the rent. Some of those jobs will be provided by the food vending carts that Mobile Loaves and Fishes runs.

image from: http://samuel-warde.com

image from: http://samuel-warde.com

Sure the cynics will scoff that this is just a glorified mobile home park with a social conscience. But I can’t help but think how much better an option this is than a dehumanizing institutional homeless shelter. (I’ve worked at them.)

image from: mlf.org

image from: mlf.org

The project is only partially complete with just half of the $6.5 million in funds raised.

If you would like to donate or assist in any other way, contact the good folks at Community First! Village for more information.

image from: news.yahoo.com

image from: news.yahoo.com

Yes, some will dismiss it as a utopian hippy commune with a slightly capitalist slant (you do need to pay rent, after all).

But I like to think about the possibilities here.

If you can instill a person with a sense of place and a pride of place, it will go a long way toward lifting them out of the ditch they were in.

 

~~~

Sources:

http://mlf.org/community-first/

http://www.shareable.net/blog/austin-to-shelter-homeless-in-a-tiny-house-village

http://www.kvue.com/news/local/First-look-at-new-community-for-Austins–231502631.html

http://samuel-warde.com/2013/11/homeless-house-tiny-house-village/

 

 

 

 

4 Responses to The Community First Village in Austin, Texas

  • Sue says:

    How perfectly inviting. I want to visit there. I think is a great alternative to a shelter. Have a nice Thanksgiving Day Sarah.

  • What a lovely, uplifting concept. Thank you for sharing this — especially on the day before Thanksgiving. We’ve got such a large homeless population where I live (Phoenix); we should keep a close eye on this concept.

    I always enjoy your posts and wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!
    Barb

  • Suzan S, says:

    Love that it’s privately funded. The more you can keep the gov’t.s nose out of people’s business the better. This also helps the people living there because it is much better for the psyche to feel you are paying your way for a place to live….than another handout.
    We’ve just had 4 days of nasty, wet, cold weather and it has occured to me several times how thankful I am to have a safe, warm, and Dry place to live.
    I hope we see more communities pop up in opther areas like this one !

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~ House Crazy Sarah ~
Sarah Felix Burns

"So many houses, so little time"




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