The Downtown Austin Alliance (Downtown Alliance) announced today a $2 million grant to Mobile Loaves & Fishes for Community First! Village, the master-planned development in northeast Austin that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for chronically homeless men and women.
The grant is not only the largest in the history of the Downtown Alliance, but also the largest ever for Mobile Loaves & Fishes, which operates Community First! Village. The $2 million will be used to support the development of the next phase of Community First! Village. The property currently covers 27 acres and features 120 micro-homes, 100 RVs and 20 canvas-sided cottages.
“Every day Mobile Loaves & Fishes is changing the lives of chronically homeless men and women in Austin by providing housing and restoring hope, and the Downtown Austin Alliance is honored to be a part of this innovative work.” Dewitt Peart, president and chief executive officer of the Downtown Alliance, said. “As the homeless population continues to rise in Austin, we hope this gift will allow more of our disadvantaged residents to find a community they can call home.”
Collectively, hundreds of partners and thousands of individual donors have supported Mobile Loaves & Fishes to make Community First! Village a reality. The $17 million development designed specifically for individuals coming out of chronic homelessness is the first of its kind in the nation. More information about the planned expansion of Community First! will be announced in the fall.
“This generous gift from the Downtown Austin Alliance is part of the largest collaborative effort in Austin focused on mitigating the most intractable problem our city faces – which is our neighbors who find themselves chronically homeless and living on the streets,” said Alan Graham, founder of Mobile Loaves & Fishes and a key thought leader in the U.S on issues involving homelessness. “Community First! Village has set a new standard in our country in terms of what can be achieved when a community comes together to address homelessness.”
When planning Community First! Village, Graham and Mobile Loaves & Fishes wanted a place that didn’t just offer a house, but a surrounding community to help serve and support all of its neighbors. The organization has a basic philosophy that housing alone will never solve homelessness, but community will.
Since 2016, Community First! Village has grown to more than 100 residents, and will have more than 200 formerly homeless neighbors living on site when it reaches capacity in 2018. The village has a number of communal amenities, including an art studio, an outdoor movie theater, a medical facility, a community market, places for worship, a blacksmith shop, gardens and more.
The Downtown Alliance has been a strong supporter of Community First! Village since its inception. In 2013, the Downtown Alliance contributed $100,000 for the initial phase of Community First! Village.