Community First Village—a 27-acre master-planned community being developed in Austin, Texas—has been touted as a solution to chronic homelessness. Once complete, the village will include 200-units of micro-housing along with supporting common facilities.
I recently had a chance to chat with Alan Graham—president of the non-profit organization behind the project, Mobile Loaves & Fishes (ML&F)—which provided a bit more insight into the project compared to what has been presented in the news thus far.
"If you want to understand homelessness you have to understand home," said Graham, "and we believe home has very little to do with the physical structure."
Instead Graham talked about permanence, affiliation, orientation, hospitality and safety as the real defining factors of home—all of which he has made the focus of Community First Village.
ML&F has raised $7 million to complete the housing project—all of which has come from private donors. Graham estimates that 80% of this funding came from between 15-20 people. The village will have full-time staff on site with an operating cost projected at $1.2 million per year.
It's important to note that Community First Village will actually be an example of low-cost housing and NOT a "housing first" type model for the chronically homeless (I'd been led to believe otherwise based on what I had read about the project). There will still be rent and residents will have to have some source of income in order to live there. But by building small, ML&F will be able to keep rent affordable to low-income individuals independent of ongoing public subsidies.
Three different housing options will be offered with monthly rent being a variable of the accommodations of each housing type. This includes:
|Screenshot from Mobile Loaves & Fishes website (http://mlf.org/pave-the-way-home/)|
1) Canvas Sided Cottages $120/month (8'x10') - $180/month (8'x12')
2) Micro-Housing: $210/month (12'x12') - $250/month (10'x18')
3) 5th Wheel RVs: $400/month
The canvas sided cottages and micro-housing will have electricity but no plumbing. Instead they will be supported by common restroom facilities scattered throughout the site. The 5th wheel will come equipped with both electricity and plumbing.