AUSTIN, Texas — In Austin there are more than 2,000 people who are homeless.
- 1,200 people chronically homeless in Austin
- Village is privately funded
- Expansion to bring 300 more units by January 2020
About 1,200 of those are chronically homeless.
We decided to look at how the community has successfully housed formerly homeless people in a unique way.
Mobile Loaves and Fishes Founder Alan Graham says there are many misconceptions about people who are homeless.
"Resignation appears to you and I as a choice and that's what happens to people that have been beat down all their lives, beginning with their family and society," said Graham. "They resign themselves that this is where they are going to be for the rest of their lives and so, sometimes they might tell you out of simple pride, 'I choose this.' "
Bonnie Durkee was one of the first 20 residents at Community First! Village several years ago. She's a veteran and was chronically homeless before finding this community.
"I get up in the morning and I come out and I meet my friends out here. I have a set pattern that I check on them and they check on me," said Durkee.
Graham says Durkee and many others feel the community keeps the residents on the right path.
"The men and women that you see on the street corners don't have that family safety net to rescue them. In addition to that, when you look into their family backgrounds, there is so much trauma at the deepest and often times, at the most violent level," he said.
Residents pay a small rent by either holding down a job on or off-site. Graham says this unique model helps keep people off the streets.
"Often times we get compared to a Seattle or something like that and honestly, the numbers don't even remotely come close to what's happening in Seattle," said Graham.
The community partners with the city, but Graham says the weight of the issue shouldn't just fall on the city’s shoulders.
"To lean into city hall to solve this problem, is really an unfair demand," Graham said. "They need to partner with us and they do, but they can't carry the burden."
The multi-million-dollar community is privately funded. An expansion will bring about 300 more units by January 2020.