MLF, a Christian nonprofit, opened a 27-acre development of RVs and tiny homes earlier this year called Community First! Village.
“I got the idea that we could lift a chronically homeless individual up off the streets into a gently used recreational vehicle,” Graham says. “I had this wild and crazy idea to develop an RV park on steroids.”
In 2005, he bought one RV for a homeless man for $5,000. Since then, MLF has helped get 115 people off the streets.
Community First! focuses on chronically homeless individuals, which means disabled people who have been homeless continuously for a year or had at least four episodes of homelessness in three years.
These efforts don’t just reduce homelessness — there’s an economic benefit as well. According to Graham, the city of Austin spends about $40,000 per homeless person every year, mainly in the form of medical and criminal justice expenses. He estimates that Community First! will save taxpayers up to $3 million per year.