Eden Village has officially begun work on a community center to be located at the planned tiny home community for the chronically homeless. Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday.
Dr. David Brown, who founded Eden Village with his wife Linda, says that the community center will feature a common area and a kitchen.
“We’re going to have some offices where we can have professionals come in, like mental health professionals, medical health, case workers, social workers, that type of people.”
He says that often these services are hard to reach for homeless people in the city, so they want to bring these professionals to where they are needed most. Brown hopes to have Eden Village completed by summer 2018 for residents to start moving in.
“The definition of homelessness is a catastrophic loss of family. They have no safety net, no family, so they’re out on their own. So we can’t create family, but we can recreate a community, that family type atmosphere – that’s what this will be.”’
Through donations from local organizations and businesses over the past two years, officials have the funds to add 21 tiny houses. But Brown notes they are far from their goal, and need more donations to build the rest of the community.
According to Nate Schlueter, Eden Village’s director of community support and operations, other building projects are planned along with the new community center.
“We’re going to be building gardens here, community gardens and a workshop and an art studio where they can create great products and we’ll help them sell it to be able to afford their rent and to live in the community.”
Schlueter has worked on successful homeless community projects like this before in Texas. He states there will be three rules for residents to live by in Eden Village; to be able to pay something for the house, to obey civil laws, and to follow rules within the community such as keeping pets on a leash.
Schlueter says that they will start to build the rest of the houses starting in January. Currently the complex has three tiny homes, which as of now serve as show houses so community members can see what residents will live in.
He states that this community will serve the chronically homeless, those that usually cost taxpayers the most money due to disabilities or other debilities. Housing projects like Eden Village reduce these costs by 60 to 75 percent, he says.
Traci Brown, Eden Village’s volunteer coordinator, added that there is a large need for volunteers as well as monetary support from the community. While the current volunteer work involves upkeep of the grounds, they will need more volunteers once residents move in.
“Each homeowner will have a mentor, so we’ll need volunteers for that; we’ll have community meals at the community center, just a lot of opportunities for volunteers so we would love to get people plugged in,” said Traci Brown.
Looking forward, David Brown says he’s excited to see what this community will do for Springfield, and hopes that the project can be replicated in other communities around the country.