Compassion Village is a grassroots effort led by faith communities in the Sacramento Region, to build Tiny Home Villages on underutilized church properties. The Villages consist of Tiny Homes on wheels built to the RV code, Resource Centers that provide necessary wrap around services and community living, restrooms, showers, laundry, computers and television. Finally, the “maker” Villages, in partnership with the E49 Hub trains the residents in entrepreneurship and gain necessary experience in the workforce through small business innovation called Compassion Enterprises.
Each Village consists of 20-50 Tiny Homes on the church site depending on space and land. Each Tiny Home is currently 8x16 square feet and 13’5” high with a loft.
In the research stages of building the Village concept, the team visited Community First! in Austin, Texas and chose to partner with and base Compassion Village’s model on Austin’s vision with two exceptions; the Sacramento version is a dispersed site model and encourages residents to eventually own their home.
The Village also gives priority to people experiencing homelessness in the neighborhood they are in and focuses each Village on the needs in that community. In Del Paso for example, many of the applicants are men and Veterans. In South Sacramento, the need is for women and children. The Vision is to have 15-20 Villages throughout the Region of Sacramento, each having the ability to focus on a particular population’s needs such as formerly incarcerated, sex trafficking victims, refugees, youth and adult populations.
Why Tiny Houses?
The current need for housing is at a breaking point. While the number of people who live without permanent, sustainable housing is increasing, the ability to provide adequate housing options is falling far behind the demand. The average cost to service a single chronically homeless person for a year can range from $40,000 to $100,000. Local and State governments bear the brunt of the burden for solving the housing crisis and homeless emergency, but despite their best efforts have come up far short of a solution.
Tiny House Villages are by far the most affordable, immediate, and sustainable model of housing for several reasons:
- The average tiny house costs only around $7,500 to build and place. Rent is a bargain at $350 per month. The low buy-in cost and individual nature of these units allows for church-village partnerships.
- The Village concept also allows for people who have been living an outdoor lifestyle to remain connected with the outdoors.
- Tiny homes require a minimal amount of land and can be easily scaled to fit into a variety of spaces.
Many homeless search for temporary spaces where they can gather and sleep, but constantly face the nagging fear of being displaced. Without a door to lock at night, homeless people also faces a crisis of safety. Living on the street exposes the homeless population to constant violence, theft and sexual abuse. Because of this, everything a homeless person owns must go with them everywhere they travel. One of the greatest markers of a person who succumbs to homelessness is lack of family connection. Broken or absent family relationships means there is no final safety net between the homeless person and the streets. Without a community that listens, cares, and encourages, homeless people tend to isolate themselves.
The tiny village concept for homelessness creates a solution to each of the main three problems this population faces - It provides a sense of place, safety and community for it’s residents.
- When you receive a Tiny House it becomes your “place.” No longer do you need to wonder where you belong. Instead, you will be able to point to a place that is yours and declare, "that is my home! This is my neighborhood! This is where I belong."
- It means you will get keys to a dead-bolt and a door. Instead of needing to carry everything you own with you wherever you go, you will be able to leave your belongings knowing they will be safely locked away until you return. This allows you to travel about the City during the day freely and with peace of mind.
- Because each home comes with a Church community partnership, each of our residents also gain a family. They not only live with others in a small community of neighbors who care for each other, they also have a high-functioning community of friends who visit regularly and provide outings and experiences that challenge and encourage them to become all that they can be.
Once place, safety and community are met, residents can begin to work on other issues, like jobs, substance abuse, mental illness treatment, employment, hobbies, and spirituality. By partnering with outside professionals, we believe that it is possible for service providers to come to the village and provide advocacy, mentoring, training, counseling, health care, and guidance. Our hope is that the brokenness of our residents is healed or managed in a way that allows for a much greater future. Some residents will choose to stay in their tiny home for a long period of time. Others, who dream of getting their own place, will be able to use their tiny home as a stepping stone to a new life.
Has This Been Done Before?
Community First Village Austin, TX
Built over ten years with decades of experience in street ministry through Mobil Loaves and Fishes, this village sits on 27 acres just 7 miles from downtown Austin. It all began with an idea to put homeless people in used travel trailers in mobile home parks. It soon grew to over 100 residents living in trailers, tiny homes, and tents. It includes a movie theater, missional residents who live with the homeless, a farm, ranch, shop, and chapel. They have raised national awareness and more than 14 million dollars. They believe “Housing will never end homelessness. Community will.” This is the gold standard for homeless tiny house villages worldwide. They welcome visitors and freely share all that they have learned over the years.
Infinity Village Nashville, TN
This project began through one church with a side-yard and a passion to do something for the homeless. They raised $50,000 through a live-in fundraiser where the pastor lived in the first tiny home. With the money raised, six homes were built and a total of 25 are planned for the guture. Bathrooms and kitchen facilities are in the church next door. This village has received nation attention:
LIHI Seattle, WA
The Seattle model is very collaborative. Organized by LIHI, the City’s Low Income Housing Initiative, it includes schools, businesses, government and churches. There are 8-20 tiny homes located on four different plots around the downtown core. They are simple, affordable, and do not include facilities. Portable toilets and garbage bins are supplied by the City. Ballard, Othello, Interbay and Tiny House Village are making a big difference.
Tiny House Dallas, TX
Funded by private money and government grants, this 6 million dollar planned community for the homeless in Dallas was built on a purchased parcel in downtown. It includes a highly-planned and expertly-designed 50 house (400 sq ft) village with a kitchen and bathroom in each unit and laundry on site. It is overseen by professional not-for-profit organizations in the community with the City and business owners.