Community First! is a faith-based concept to address homelessness in
Austin, Texas. The idea is to create a small community for people who
are homeless. This community will consist of a wide variety of small
homes, as well as help finding jobs, and medical, dental, and other
services. Of course, there will also be a community church as well.
Graphic for Community First! Concept (You Tube Image)
The project has been in the planning stage for 10 years and is set to break ground soon on 27 acres that will hold homes for the homeless -- including tiny houses, mobile homes, teepees, and refurbished RVs and trailers. The amenities available to the residents will include a community garden, a small church, a medical facility, a workshop, a bed and breakfast, and an outdoor movie theater.
The community will offer chroinically homeless people affordable housing, not free housing. The people who move into the community will also get help in locating appropriate employment so that they can get back on their feet. It is program designed to give these people a hand up, not just a hand out.
Community First! Trailer (You Tube Image)
Alan Graham of Mobile Loaves and Fishes, a Catholic organization dedicated to helping the poor and needy, says that the cost of not helping these people is high and getting them back on track is an important thing, not just to save taxpayers' money, but to live the word of Christ. The only people the organization is trying to convert are the members of the city of Austin who are still questioning the project.
Mobile Loaves and Fishes has been going out into the community for 14 years to feed the homeless in Austin. They believe that a broken family is the base cause of homelessness since people lose their support system that would otherwise help the person to get back on their feet. In turn, Mobile Loaves and Fishes tries to act as the family for these people, and give them the support they need to recover from the circumstances that left them homeless. The name of the organization refers to the miracle of Jesus being able to feed 5,000 hungry people with just seven loaves of bread and five fish.
Community First! Tent (You Tube Image)
Once the naysayers get a good look at the project they begin to realize that this project is more than just some sort of storage facility for the homeless. The idea of helping these people get on their feet and to get their lives back quickly changes any negative perceptions that still exist.
The idea is a unique one to deal with a chronic problem that has only deepened with the economic recession. Tim League, founder of Alamo Drafthouse, which will be providing the outdoor cinema for the community, says that this is the very first "Yes, in my backyard," program.
Sources: Yes!, Mobile Loaves and Fishes