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Eden Village To Host Events For Homeless Awareness Month

The Gathering Tree

November is Homeless Awareness Month, and local organizations are hosting events to raise awareness of the issue.

One of those is Eden Village, a tiny home community that's working to get people off the streets.

Nate Schlueter is Eden Village's Chief Operating Officer, and he talked with KSMU's Michele Skalicky about the events they're hosting this month.

Reporter:  The first event you're hosting is a showing of the film, "Same Kind of Different as Me" with a Q&A with author and producer, Ron Hall. Give me an overview of the film.

Schlueter:  So the film is really about an international art dealer, Ron Hall, who, due to the nudging of his wife, befriended a homeless person in the inner city of Dallas. And it really just goes through his life experience and the wisdom that Denver Moore, the homeless person he befriended, kind of instilled in his life and how his perceptions of homelessness were changed through the years of knowing Denver. So he was friends with Denver until Denver passed away a couple of years ago. So it's it's kind of a life changing story of finding out that people from all walks of life really have a lot in common.

What do you hope those who attend the showing will take away with them?

Schlueter:  We hope that through the movie, and maybe people will come out the next day and tour Eden Village and meet Ron again, that their perceptions of homelessness and the people that are homeless in our community would be changed.

I want to talk about the tour here in just a moment, but first of all, let's let everybody know when and where that film showing is going to be.

Schlueter:  Yes, November 4 at the Alamo Drafthouse, off of South Campbell, at 6:40. And they can buy their tickets online at the Alamo Drafthouse.

And then on November 5th, from 1 to 4, anyone can meet Ron Hall and tour Eden Village. And for those who aren't familiar with the tiny home community, tell us more about it. First of all, who runs Eden Village?

Schlueter:  Eden Village is ran by a small staff and really an army of volunteers.  We have about 800 hundred people come on a monthly basis and volunteer to make the community happen. And it provides permanent housing right now for 33 people that were chronically homeless in Springfield. So that means that they were homeless before they came to Eden Village for at least a year in Greene County, and they have some sort of disability that prevents them from typical and traditional housing.

And that kind of tells me a little bit about who can live there, but who is eligible to have housing at Eden Village?

Schlueter:  They have to have the ability to pay rent and agree to follow basic rules that we all follow in our neighborhoods if we want to live there permanently, so you have to obey the law. Everybody in America that has a house has to pay rent or pay their mortgage, pay their property taxes, so everybody has to pay something. They pay $300 a month utilities included, no deposit. They agree to obey the law. And then it's a gated and secure community. So there's other rules mainly revolving around where you can smoke cigarettes or where you could drink alcohol. And so we tried to keep the rules simple but also bring amenities for them that they need to get settled and live a productive life. And so we have onsite caseworkers and we have a medical clinic. We have communities and volunteers coming in, serving meals, doing Bingo. We kind of filled the day with lots of activities that they can choose to do if they want to.

What is the goal, then, of having this community for homeless people who don't have anywhere else to go?

Schlueter:  The root cause of homelessness is really the catastrophic loss of family. And so the goal is to--we can't really replace the family unit, but we can form a strong community that provides a safety net so that people don't fall back into homelessness. And so kind of our vision is for a city where no one sleeps outside. So we want to build four, five Eden Villages over the next six to eight years throughout town to house the 200 people that are currently sleeping outside in our city.

So where does that stand now? Where are you at in terms of moving forward with a second Eden Village?

Schlueter:  We have property, and we'll build a second Eden Village and start construction we think in January. So we think by the fall of 2020, we'll be moving more people in."

Where is Eden Village located?
Schlueter:  Eden Village is at 2801 E. Division Street.