I’ve worked with the homeless in one way or another for about fifteen years, in three states. And one of the things I have learned from so many of them is how easy it is to go from employed and “normal” to homeless almost overnight. And how very, very difficult it is to recover from the fall.
Those of us who have never lacked a place to call home can’t imagine the hurdles. It’s everything from having no place to bathe or store clothing to having no address to put down on a job application. It’s no proof of residence to get a driver’s license…or even a library card. It’s a thousand things those of us who have thankfully never been homeless cannot imagine.
That’s why projects like Mobile Loaves and Fishes Community First! Village are so critical to breaking the cycle of homelessness and letting people take the next step back into a normal life. This 27-acre planned community in Austin includes:
- An innovative mix of affordable housing options
- Places for study, and fellowship
- Memorial garden and columbarium
- A community garden featuring fruit and nut bearing trees and vegetables
- A chicken operation, bee hives producing fresh honey and an aquaponics fish operation
- A workshop with tool bank and art gallery for micro-enterprise opportunities
- A medical facility for physical and mental health screenings and support services including hospice and respite care
- Walking trails
- An outdoor theater
- Walking distance to public transportation
The focus on Community First Village is to lift the disabled and chronically homeless permanently out of that life of uncertainty, illness and danger and offer them a chance. So far, 99 people have been reached by the Village, but there are still so many people here in Austin who need that helping hand. The goal of this project is to help 225 people permanently leave the world of homelessness and move on with dignity.
Several organizations around Austin are working with Mobile Loaves and Fishes to build more micro-housing and provide needed services for the residents. Some are raising money to build a micro-home…and then planning to work on the actual construction. Others are raising funds or offering their time for the support services the Village needs like help with gardens, health care or providing finishing touches like linens and kitchen needs. Everyone can help in some way.
Everyone deserves a chance to have a space to call their own, whether it’s a grand house or a tiny microhome. After all, to paraphrase Horton (my favorite Dr. Seuss character!), “A home is a home, no matter how small.” Please help Austin’s homeless find a place to call home.
Mobile Loaves & Fishes is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization helping Austin residents in need regardless of their religious affiliation.
903 South Capital of Texas Highway
Austin, Texas 78746