Hope For the Homeless At Community First Village

by The Lone Spanger

Like some of you I have been hearing of this seemingly utopian homeless housing program for months. An offshoot of Community First by Mobile Loaves and Fishes, which has been around for almost a decade, the master-planned community has been a hot topic on the street here in Austin. After hearing the rumors, I decided it was time to find out what was really happening at this much hyped development. Time to get your facts and squash the rumors for the Community First Village (CFV).

Community First Village

Fact: The site is still in it’s development stages with no residents on the property. The first home was finished recently, but is not being offered for occupancy yet. There will be approximately 200-250 single occupancy micro-homes and trailers on the 27 acre property with volunteers doing the building.

Squash the Rumors: You cannot set up a tent or trailer on the property yourself. You will not be part of the building process of your own home to get it done faster. Tent plots will not be offered, nor will plots for personal trailers. You will not be able to live at a temporary onsite area until your home is done being built.

Fact: The rent scale, which may change in the future, is being approximated at $100-$375/month. Every home will have full electrical capabilities, plumbing, bathing, cooking facilities, and wi-fi access. The micro-homes will be approximately 150-200 square feet, and 5th wheel RV’s will be the residential trailers. There will be minimal assistance provided for electrical/water bills, but residents will be responsible to pay thier full rent costs.

Squash the Rumors: There will be no free plots available. There is no sliding-scale system to determine rent based on financial need. Everyone pays the same rent depending on the nature of the home they recieve. In fact, all residents will have to do an application to determine if they have provable income before they move to the property. You will not be required to use a community bathing facility (like at the ARCH) since you will have your own in each unit. The homes are being reserved and designed for single residents only; not families, couples, or people with children.

Fact: There will be staff on site to help with the needs of residents once the property is in use. Background checks will be done on all applicants to help determine if the person will pose a safety risk for other residents, such as being a previous sex offender. A triage-style clinic will be at CFV to give those who need it basic health care and determine if further treatment is necessary. CFV is working closely with police, fire, and health care officials to ensure all safety protocols are in place for the well-being of residents as the community is built.

Squash the Rumors: This is not going to be a party-fueled land of debauchery. It will be entirely gated with only residents and registered guests allowed inside.

Fact: Although all residential units will be fully equipped with amenities, there will be extra facilities on site as well as recreational and personal enrichment areas. Laundry facilities will be provided, three additional bath areas with private bathrooms inside, and an outdoor kitchen. A multi-acre community gardening area, known as “Genesis Gardens” is already being facilitated with 500 fruit trees, a tilapia pond, chickens, rabbits, and a vegetable garden. A wood shop, with welding equipment, is also available for use.

Squash the Rumors: You will not be rendered helpless if an aspect of your amenities is damaged, The extra amenities onsite will help you sustain your normal living patterns until repairs are made. This is not an empty piece of land with nothing to do either. The variety of activities provided for residents will nurture a healthy lifestyle and encourage a positive community atmosphere.

Interesting Facts:

  • There are micro-business opportunities for employment for residents interested in finding a job with employers assisting within this program.
  • A missional bed and breakfast will be at CFV for visiting missionaries from other cities, states, and countries to use during their outreach there.
  • An outdoor movie screen (provided by Alamo Drafthouse) will be available onsite for movie nights and will be operated by residents as part of a micro-business opportunity.
  • The current distance to the nearest bus stop is one mile, but CFV is planning on getting it’s own stop approved by Capital Metro once the site is opened.
  • The homes are designed to be energy efficient and there are plans to implement a recycling program when the site is opened.

Websites for CFV are currently (and constantly) being updated as the project moves forward: Visit
mlf.org/community-first/ or facebook.com/MLFnation

To submit an application for residency at CFV, contact Bythe Plunkett: blythe(at)mlf.org. Online applications will be available further into the project’s development.

To tour the property you need to make a reservation. I was informed that they are currently booked through August, so you might want to plan ahead. Contact Donna Emery: donna(at)mlf.org or (512)328-7299 ext. 112.

To donate directly to CFV, go to donate.mlf.org and scroll down to the “Community First! Donate Now” option.

To volunteer, contact Sarah Boettcher: sarah(at)mlf.org or (512)328-7299

Thank you to Perri Verdino-Gates for answering all my questions as best as possible during our 42 minute long phone conversation. It seems to me that with the continued support of volunteers, donors, and the city, CFV will surely be a success story in the history of homeless housing developments and provide a progressive model for future housing coordinators to follow. I’m looking forward to watching the program blossom and hope it makes a positive impact on the city’s morale towards encouraging more communities like this. I also hope this update on CFV helps you feel better informed on the true nature and perspective of this unique development. Thanks for reading!

Did you enjoy this article? Want to read more like it? Great news! The latest issue of the Challenger Newspaper is available for download here. Or for a hard-copy version see our distributors map to locate a friendly Challenger distributor near you. Thank you for helping support our mission to end homelessness in Austin!

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