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 images in "The Future of Mo Hope Village" 3-minute video below were taken during our visit, and give a glimpse of what is possible.
Mo Hope Village is excited to share that our quest has begun for land upon which we'll build a self-sustaining community of tiny houses for our chronically homeless neighbors to call Home! Our vision is to build 50 homes in the beginning, and expand to 100+ as needed. www.MoHopeVillage.org
When the time comes to build the tiny houses, we'll ask our partner churches, local businesses, and civic organizations to each prayerfully consider adopting one homeless neighbor and build them a home. Our plan is for those adoptive relationships to begin well prior to the construction beginning, and to last many years beyond their completion as they pour love into the lives of the adopted neighbors and our community as a whole. But first, we need land...
The size of the property will depend upon how much of it can be built upon, thus we're looking for properties with 50-100+ acres. Based upon properties currently available, we project we'll need to raise $200,000 to $300,000.
The first phase of our quest for land involves gaining commitments from our partner churches, local businesses, and civic organizations willing to help fund the purchase. We're currently reaching out to them to solicit their support.
Many of our supporters have expressed in the past their desire to help financially with our land purchase. We have established a separate bank account and PayPal account for our Mo Hope Village. If you'd like to contribute toward the purchase of land, you may do so via the link below or by sending a check payable to :
Mo Hope Village at P.O. Box 161, Studley, VA 23162
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.