A unique solution to end homelessness – Find out from Alan Graham
Providing shelter is never a solution to end the homelessness; because the homeless people need more, they need a community. This is what Alan Graham believes and for which he founded Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a nonprofit with an aim to provide affordable permanent housing and a supportive community for the disabled, chronically homeless in Central Texas.
“I got the idea that we could lift a chronically homeless individual up off the streets into a gently used recreational vehicle. I had this wild and crazy idea to develop an RV park on steroids, says Alan Graham.
MLF opened a 27-acre development of RVs and tiny homes called Community First! Village. Community First focuses on chronically homeless individuals, which means disabled people who have been continuously homeless for a year or had at least four episodes of homelessness in three years. In 2005, Alan Graham bought one RV for a homeless man for $5,000. MLF has helped get 115 people off the streets since then.
The approach of Community First to tackle homelessness is totally different. There are only three rules – Residents must pay rent, obey the law and follow community rules. The homes are essentially just bedrooms and the residents share everything else, from state of the art, communal kitchen to the laundry and bathroom facilities.
There’s a dog park, volunteer nurses, a market, gardens, chickens and goats, a fish farm and an art gallery. The residents can earn a living by working in these micro businesses. The property even has an outdoor movie theater. The movie theater and the art gallery are open to the public. The residents who work there can use the profits, which can go towards their rent.
Each year, taxpayers pay up to $5 million to house 250 homeless people throughout the Austin city. It is indeed a commendable step from Alan Graham, who is offering a private solution to end homelessness and on the other hand, relieving the taxpayers of Austin from this great burden.