Like most cities across this nation, our shelter system is over-burdened and lacks adequate resources to effectively address the problem. There are roughly 300 shelter beds available to serve Richmond and her surrounding counties, and they're rarely available to the growing number of neighbors experiencing homelessness; currently estimated at roughly 600+ on any given night. "Why?" you ask? Because our shelter system lacks sufficient beds to satisfy the true need, and rarely has available beds for our neighbors struggling to ascend out of their homeless nightmare. It was never intended to be a longterm waypoint, but rather a brief stop on the ascent to transitional housing on the way to affordable housing.
Meant as a first step out of homelessness and the shelter system, "transitional housing" became a place where many of our friends find themselves stuck, due to the lack of "affordable housing" to move "up" into. HUD-funded programs like halfway houses, Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Re-Housing are designed to transition neighbors from the woods, streets, and shelters into a structured housing environment that guides them "back" into society. Because funding is limited, so is the availability of beds in the halfway & transitional houses. And the trend has seen a departure from transitional housing altogether.
Few builders and developers devote their energy and resources to building "affordable" housing. Why? The profit margins reaped from building housing units truly affordable to the lowest income earners and those relying upon government subsidies are generally not appealing. Hence, most of them focus on highly profitable luxury communities and homes. The results are seen in our current shortage of housing that is truly affordable to those struggling to climb out of transitional housing, subsidized "Section 8" housing, and the shelter system. Likewise, there are limited apartments available from landlords willing to accept vouchers; government promises to pay the rent on behalf of tenants participating in these programs.
The philosophy behind "Housing 1st", very simply put, is that we can't help, heal, or cure someone struggling to survive each day outdoors, until we help them satisfy their need for shelter. We couldn't agree more! AND, we believe there's much more...and it is built around community.
We've seen firsthand what happens when a neighbor living outdoors is plucked out of their familiar surroundings and planted in a new community, in an attempt to help them re-assimilate into society. After years of flying a sign on the same corner, becoming a fixture in the community and known by name by countless who pass them each day...they become withdrawn and recluse when moved to unfamiliar and often unfriendly surroundings where those they know are nowhere near. The results are often a downward spiral of interest in life and becoming part of a community with whom they lack anything in common. One friend, Steve, resorted to riding two metro buses to get back to "his" corner, his community where he "fit in", to fly his sign, interact with passersby, buy his 40 oz. beer, and ride two buses back to his apartment at the end of each day, where he'd avoid any contact with his new neighbors. He didn't last long in that environment, and was soon relocated to an apartment in walking distance of his old corner, where he now sits daily with a smile. He now has a home, and he's home.
What if we built a community where the residents all had something in common...homelessness? Where services and support were available for addressing addictions and mental health issues? Where housing was truly affordable, safe, tailored to the individual, and everyone paid rent? Where micro-enterprises offered opportunities to earn a dignified wage? Where surrounding communities eagerly volunteered and linked arms with residents to keep this community beautiful and sustainable? A community governed by Christian principles and respectful of all religions and belief systems?
This is what we observed during our visit in February of 2018 to the Community First! Village in Austin, TX. A planned community of 150 tiny houses designed and built by the best Austin has to offer, and a history of success making their formerly homeless residents finally feel at home. This model is what we intend to pattern our Mo Hope Village after.
The Mo Hope Village will be a master planned community that will provide affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for men and women coming out of chronic homelessness. This transformative residential program exists to love and serve our neighbors who have been living on the streets, while also empowering the surrounding community into a lifestyle of service with the homeless.
It is with great disappointment that I share that Moments of Hope Outreach has withdrawn from our contract to purchase the property in Caroline Country on which we had plans to build our Mo Hope Village. Our vision, and our commitment to bring this innovative community to fruition, are still very much alive, however the current zoning ordinances make the property unsuitable and efforts to explore this with the Caroline County Board of Supervisors were rejected without any discussion with us.
To our many neighbors in Caroline County who rely upon the free groceries and other items you receive each week from our Mo Hope Pantry, please rest assured that you are still welcome to visit each week.
To our generous donors who contributed toward the purchase of the property, please rest assured the funds you contributed remain in a account designated for the Mo Hope Village and will be used solely for the purchase of land for the Mo Hope Village, once a suitable property has been identified and zoning has been successfully addressed. Thank you again for supporting our outreach ministry and our mission to end the homeless nightmares of our neighbors. If for any reason you have concerns or questions about the funds we received from you, please do no hesitate to call us at (804) 913-9118 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We knew and said from the very beginning of this journey, that we will surely be met with resistance and the NIMBY (not in my backyard) mindset regardless of where God leads us to build the Mo Hope Village. The lessons learned from this rejection and the process leading up to it will be reflected positively in future plans and efforts.
Allow me to share the most exciting news since we found land and put a contract on it…the Elders at Fairmount Christian Church presented me with a check last week for $41,603 toward the purchase of the property on which we plan to build our Mo Hope Village! These funds were a full tithe of the funds they raised through their end of year giving campaign. Praise God!
But they didn’t stop there…the Elders invited me back this past Tuesday night to surprise me with another check for the same purpose. The check was for $68,397! That brings the total gift from God through our Brothers and Sisters at Fairmount Christian Church to $110,000! I can still hear God roaring, and I remain awestruck.
Thank you to the entire congregation, the Elders, and church leadership for this most amazing gift! These gifts bring our total to $251,480 we have received since December 27, 2019 toward the land purchase price of $409,000! Praise God!
We wish to thank the Dover Baptist Association and their member churches for their incredibly generous gift of $30,000 to help us purchase the land on which we will build our Mo Hope Village! This gift brings our funds received for this purchase to $85,581 so far, with commitments of an additional $50,000. Thank you Father God for your provision!
Your generous tax deductible donation to the Mo Hope Village Building Fund will help fund our mission to create a community of tiny homes to end the homeless nightmare so many of our neighbors in the Richmond area are enduring. All funds received via this PayPal link are deposited into a special account solely for the purpose of building the Mo Hope Village.