Nate Schlueter, Chief Operating Officer for Eden Village, a project of The Gathering Tree, visited KSMU Friday to promote a fundraising concert and silent auction for the new project. It’s called “Raise the Roof,” and will take place Friday August 24th from 6:30 to 11:30pm at The Complex, 307 Park Central East. Hosted by Jeremy Rabe, the evening will feature live music and a silent auction.
Schlueter describes Eden Village as “a master-planned tiny-home community for the chronically homeless in Springfield.” It was created by The Gathering Tree, a local nonprofit that provides services to the homeless. Eden Village “is designed for people that have lived on the streets of our city for a year or longer, and have a disabling condition. It’s a gated community. They’ll be paying low rent to live there, and it’s full of amenities that they need to live out the rest of their lives in dignity.
“All of Eden Village has been a community effort to end homelessness. It’s a privately funded project; it’s us as a community saying we’re tired of seeing our brothers and sisters on the streets. We want a permanent solution,” adds Schlueter. “This isn’t ‘transitional’ housing. This will change people’s lives. It’s kind of the idea of shedding the identity of ‘homelessness,’ and now you can be settled and start your new life and be able to hope and dream again.”
The community is located at 2801 E. Division Street, next to the old Shady Dell School. There will be 31 “tiny homes” on-site: single-bedroom dwellings totally 398 square feet of living space, including kitchen and bathroom. “The homes are beautiful,” says Nate Schlueter. The “low rent” he mentioned is a minimum of $300 per month, with no deposit and utilities included. “Most of our applicants have a mental type of disability—most of them get disability (benefits). They earn about $725 per month. Some of them work at different places. It’s just that the hurdles for them to get housing are overwhelming with their disabilities.” The units can be made wheelchair-accessible very quickly if needed, says Schlueter. In addition, each home comes fully furnished, including a new wardrobe on move-in day so residents can truly have a fresh start on life.
Other innovative features at Eden Village: the entire community will eventually be solar powered, thanks to a donation from Solar Sun. And each home will have a garden planted so residents will have access to fresh healthy foods. And there will be a community center with medical and mental health services on site.
“Right now there are 15 (homes) that are getting ready for future residents. The rest of the homes will come in six to eight weeks. Everybody will be moved in by Christmas Eve,” Schlueter promises. “That’s important for our homeless friends, that last Christmas (2017) will be the last Christmas that they spent outside.”
Every home in the Eden Village gated compound is sponsored, primarily by individuals, families, businesses, churches and organizations. “So every time home had a sponsor that helped pay for the house,” says Nate Schlueter. “The sponsorships are $30,000 per home; sponsors get to choose the color scheme, pick the theme of the home, and name the house. But by the time we pour the pad, and add wardrobe, furniture and everything, we’re all in at about $40,000 (per home).”
The idea for the “Raise the Roof” fundraiser on August 24 came from Stacy Shoemake, who suggested naming one of the 31 houses “The House that Friends Built”, and attempting to raise a $30,000 tiny home sponsorship directly from the community. Says Nate Schlueter, “The benefits from the ‘Raise the Roof’ concert and silent auction go towards this one home that we, as a community, can sponsor. And all of the bands stepped up and said that they wanted to be a part of the community effort to house a homeless person in a tiny home at Eden Village.”
The musical line-up for the August 24th event includes Margot and the Kidders, the Refugees with their Tom Petty tribute, and Rhythm of Saints with a Paul Simon Tribute. Along with a night of live music, there will be a silent auction featuring a stay at Hotel Vandivort, a meal a month from The Wheelhouse, Theta Float Spa gift certificates, Copper Run Distillery fine spirits, handcrafted items from Springfield Hot Glass Studio, a one of a kind quilt from Peacock Portal Designs, dinner at Cellar + Plate, HonkyTonk Clothing Company swag, Scout + Cellar gift basket and much more.
Tickets for “Raise the Roof” are $20 in advance, $25 day of show. Advance tickets are available at https://www.showclix.com/event/raise-the-roof-for-eden-village.
Then on Tuesday August 28, four days after the fundraiser, Eden Village will hold a grand opening that will be open to the public starting at 11:00am. “We’ll unveil the Sun Solar Community Center, then we’ll tour the tiny homes that are on-site. Congressman Billy Long will be there, talking about how housing homeless people is a solution to ending homelessness. We’ll be excited to move in our first resident—his name is Tommy—at 11:00 (on the 28th). Barbeque will also be available that day.
For information on “Raise the Roof” and the Eden Village grand opening, call 894-3390 or visit www.thegatheringtree.org, or the Gathering Tree Facebook page.