EXPERIMENT:::Can Tiny Homes Solve Homelessness?

     Mobile Loaves & Fishes began when five parishioners of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Austin, Texas boldly answered God’s call to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Alan Graham and his friends began delivering meals out of the back of a minivan to men and women they found living on the streets of their city.

    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.

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