Tiny Homes Will Not End Homelessness – Community First! Village Will.

Seems like it’s only been a moment since Alan Graham first invited me to Austin to see the amazing work he is doing. Since then, I have visited Mobile Loaves & Fishes more than any other nonprofit homeless services. The reason for that is simple: Alan and his team place people first!

Over the years I have helped share the story of his mobile food trucks going out giving our homeless friends the dignity of choice. I helped share about his Street Treats program that give our homeless friends a viable way to make some real money as street vendors. But from day one I probably talked more about Alan’s work in rapid housing people in RVs, so it is so amazing to see his Community First! Village vision become a reality.

Like Housing First, the topic of Tiny Homes has become sexy, but neither will work without support services and positive tangible social interactions. Community and social networks often play the biggest role in any of our lives, and that’s especially true when people are going through a drastic life change like street to home.

This week I was honored to be invited to Mobile Loaves & Fishes Community First! Village’s ground breaking. I have known Alan for 5 years now and this vision has been in his heart for over a decide. Each year when I visited Alan would show me a new map or a new model home and tell me all the progress and struggles he’s had trying to make this vision happen.

There is no perfect solution to ending homelessness. It’s as complex an issue as we are humans. I do strongly believe that the more we can give people dignity, the power of choice, and genuine community the better we’ll be able to offer solutions that will have impact. Here is a video that showcases Community First! Village that I hope you’ll share with your networks.

  • Wonderful! Simply wonderful.

    My approach to the problem now faced by people across a wide spectrum has been motivated by the very same faith, but with reluctance to speak of that faith. It’s not that I am half hearted, or lacking, but that I have experienced so much resistance as soon as “God” comes into the language. I’m not a proselytiser at all, but I am more than happy to tell people why I have hope if they ask.

    My strategy has been to describe the need for community & to develop tools for empowerment without risking that alienation. I’ve been quite unable to make much progress (is God a jealous God?)

    I’ve figured that the main reason is the structural & systemic barriers, designed to try to force people into a mode of existence under pain of homelessness … slow death actually. The main mechanism I see standing in the way of community is the commodification of our birthright of access to land (as to air, water & sunlight). This sets us in competition with each other for survival, as the commodification of land leads to its gentrification.

    Problem is that, (although I still think this is at the root of the problem, forcing us to compete rather than to cooperate), the holders of the land, generally middle & upper class mortgagees & owners, are spooked by this talk that might challenge their “security”. Of course the only real security is in faith, so I am left wondering if your strategy of proselytising as part of the strategy is better – after all, if those who own the land in denial of the rights of others have faith & love, they will ensure that the landless are given their right of access to land for shelter, a natural right given by God. Even foxes have their holes, right?

    Anyhow, while I can’t claim any success with my approach so far, I may be able to contribute something to your wonderful effort, especially in regard to creating community, Village. Strangely, the tool I designed to empower cooperation among neighbours is called CreateVillage. (see http://landrights4all.weebly.com/ntws-activity-organiser—createvillage.html)

    may God bless you
    Chris Baulman
    [email protected]

  • matt

    If there was a place where organic farmers would house, and teach homeless people to grow herbs and organic produce, while using the crops to sell, feed the residents, and finance bills, with the help of donations I think it would be wonderful! Then maybe the residents could move on to jobs in minimalist communities that provide room and boardfor experienced farm workers. Use minimal power, like solar power and build tiny home communities to house people. I wish I could do this for homeless people, but I’m about to be homeless. Maybe one day I can buy some land and do this.

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  • Grandma5

    I am pretty sure Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConnaghy live in Austin and would have the means to help!!

  • m whitefoxm

    I’m interested in trying to get something like this going in Cedar Rapids/ Linn County, Iowa.
    But really have no idea how to get started with the Legal hurdles/ Zoning, restrictions, and so forth.
    I think it could be done as a Non-profit org.

    I’d appreciate any information anyone has.
    [email protected]

  • Audrey Marino

    I am a homelessperson 6 months ago i was making 2000 a month my lady i took care oof passed away my car broke down and my unemployment s no more now im homeless and very much would love a tiny home hoow whould i be abel to acheve this and build a tiny home for myself in lodi california

  • Anonymouse

    Alan Graham is forcing people who are not homeless, who previously received rvs from his non-profit and are living elsewhere, to be uprooted and moved to his Community First village at great inconvenience to them. What is the point of that? Is he going to point to them as bona fide residents of this new village, when they were settled perfectly fine elsewhere? Are they going to be his poster children? This is flat out wrong and I haven’t sent it addressed or even mentioned elsewhere. Shame on him and on Community First.

  • Mikki Olsen

    Been homeless 3 years in Seattle. I’m a 21 year old disabled wan. Was denied housing despite being disabled and getting SSI. Bad health making it impossible to continue living from place to place forced me to go to Nebraska where I found someone with an RV to live in. Now I need help paying it off, as the RV owner cannot keep it and poor health and raising kids make it impossible to deal with. If more of the communities in the cities cared, there’d be no homeless people. Something would be done already. I have setup a gofundme page just to help pay off my RV: I need it, it’s my only chance at housing after repeated denials and refusals because I did not meet nor fit the requirements (as I was told). Let’s hope we fix the problem!

  • Chris Mack

    I’m in school right now building my knowledge and credit to do this exact thing! If you put your mind to it, you can do it also! I hope your personal situation has turned around as well.

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