Just when we think the only news that comes out of Texas makes us all wince and groan, we find a story like this from the true heart of Texas — Austin. The Community First! Village is a program of Mobile Loaves & Fishes. It sits on a 27-acre master-planned community and will provide affordable, sustainable housing for approximately 200 chronically homeless disabled people in Central Texas.
“It will be a gated community who’s [sic] access is limited to the residents and their registered invited guests,” said project founder Alan Graham. (KVUE)
The motivation of Mobile Loaves & Fishes — and Graham — is their faith.
We’re not called to be successful. We’re called to be faithful.
We’ve been really active in pulling people up off the street and into housing – housing that they pay rent on. We just help them get in the housing.
Residents of Community First! will work, with some using street vending carts to make a living. Graham explained:
We also have a giant wood shop where people are very gifted and talented in building things. So we want to empower people into a purposeful cultivating lifestyle of working.
The community has been in planning for 10 years, with Mobile Loaves & Fishes serving the Central Texas homeless population for 14 years. Homes include tiny cottages, mobile homes, and even tepees. Most kitchens and bathrooms will be communal.
Some of the amazing features of this little village:
- A 3-acre garden
- A medical facility
- A workshop
- A bed and breakfast in the form of an air stream motel
- Tiny individual gardens for each home
- An interfaith chapel in a separate cottage
- A vintage outdoor movie theater that will do public screenings
Graham said that it’s not been easy to convince everyone to be on board with helping homeless people, but they like the idea of the bed and breakfast and the movie theater. Well, and the fact that the folks will be working and paying rent.
We haven’t converted everybody [to the idea of housing the homeless], but when people come out here they go, ‘Oh!’ They see a chapel; they see medical and vocational services on site, and they learn that residents will not live there for free; they’ll pay a monthly rent. (News 90.5/KUT.org)
If that’s not enough, perhaps some Texans will take comfort in how this will affect the thing that really matters most to many of them: money. Graham points out that if 200 chronically homeless people become more self-sufficient, the $6.5 million project could save taxpayers in Central Texas approximately $10 million per year. Downtown Austin businesses expect to see a boon as 20 percent of Austin’s homeless will be taken off the streets, thereby motivating business owners and government officials to jump on board.
Community First! is funded entirely with private money and has raised half the funding it needs. They are expecting to complete the project and begin moving people in by 2015. To donate, click here. You can follow their progress by liking the Mobile Loaves & Fishes Facebook page.
Austin…it’s like a whole other country inside Texas.
Watch the video: