Who is Compassion Village?
Compassion Village is a grassroots collaborative movement between E49 Corporation, local Pastors and Churches and Compassion Enterprises, focused on mobilizing churches in partnership with businesses and the community in the Sacramento Region to address homelessness bybuilding Tiny Homes and rehabilitating underutilized church properties as resource centers. Additionally, residents will have an opportunity to start their own business or work for Compassion Enterprises, a social enterprise venture focused on small business startups.
The Village is a dispersed site master planned Tiny Home community with sites located primarily on underutilized church or commercially zoned C2 properties throughout the Sacramento Region. The Tiny Home Villages are for low-income individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The first site is located at 2771 Grove Avenue. This and all of the future sites will be similar consisting of an existing building that can be rehabilitated for use as a resource center, as well as, additional housing units. The Resource Center includes showers, restrooms, laundry, kitchen, community living and wrap around services. Additionally, most sites will have bedrooms available inside the building that can be used for additional rooms for a total of 40-50 Tiny Homes per site. The Tiny Home Village requires ½ acre of land per 20 Tiny homes.
The Tiny Homes are 8 x 16 and 13 ½ feet high for a total of 128 square feet. The homes currently being built do not have restrooms or kitchens but are fully equipped with solar energy and appliances including lighting, battery boxes with charging stations, air, heat, fans and nearby water access and a resource center for all other community shared utilities. We can adjust the plans to include composting toilets and kitchenettes should jurisdictions require those amenities. The design of the homes was carefully considered when built to maximize space and height and without restrooms. Currently, the homes are on wheels, built to the RV code and will remain on wheels until the City and/or County of Sacramento adjust zoning and/or building codes for Tiny Homes. As soon as those changes take place, we can adjust quickly to accommodate any new requirements. The cost to build each home with volunteer labor is $10,000 and $15,000 with hired labor. (Please note, this number has gone up since we started due to rising costs of materials)
The design of Compassion Village is consistent with the neighborhoods we are working in. The homes are built conforming to all RV building and design codes. Our goal is that both Residents and neighbors see The Village as a complement their neighborhood and not blight. Each home provides ample storage for necessities of the residents and a place to lock up bikes. At the same time, weekly inspections insure that residents do not accumulate excessive “stuff”.
The population in each Village will be considered and matched to the Village resident entrance requirements. Each site is low barrier and able to accommodate the population needing the homes most and accommodate ADA standards. For example, in Del Paso area 70% of the applications and referrals come from men or for men. As such, the Village is currently all men. No one has been denied entrance but the population dictated the resident population.
Once on site, residents are provided an opportunity to participate in weekly group meetings regarding the day to day operations of the site and any issues they me be having that need to be discussed. They are also assigned a case manager who meets with residents twice weekly in a group setting and once weekly individually to help the resident guide their goals and needs. Finally, each resident is asked to volunteer on site weekly to help with community food distribution and participate weekly in a group activity and meal brought in and facilitated by volunteers from neighboring churches.
The project site map and design is attached. Each Village would have the same design per half acre. This model is very easily replicated and scaled depending on sites and amount of land. At our current pace, we believe we will be able to complete 2 Villages a year. Any substantial funding could speed up that timeframe.
It should be noted that once the Tiny Homes are built and the building is rehabbed, the Villages are self -sustaining through rents and enterprise funds. We do not have to ask for funds again. Each home can accommodate a single resident or a couple. Homes are placed with residents as soon as they are completed.
How will it work?
Compassion Village will operate as a collaborative strategy to provide a continuum of housingincluding short termand permanent versions of Tiny Homes. Each home is partnered with E49 Corporation to manage overall success; a homeless focused nonprofit for services; a church to build community and advocacy and a business to help with social enterprise activities. Together, they provide the best possible chance for an individual to go from homelessness to success. Each organization will have a role focused on three key areas: housing, mentoring and entrepreneurship. Within each of those areas, we will allow residents to go from stability to success by moving from short term topermanent housing. While in each one, they will also move from being placed with advocates, mentors and coaches, while at the same time, learningmicro-enterprise skills, small business incubation and vocational schooling.
Phase 1of the village will consist of 20temporary tiny homes on vacant land located on church property that will provide immediate short-term housing. Each of these homes will be built by churches and volunteers on their own church sites and then brought to the Village site.Churches commit to raising $10,000to pay for the Tiny Home materials and either building the homes with a licensed contractor and their congregation OR allowing The Prison Industry Authority and inmates at Folsom Prison build the homes. Additionally, churches agree to partner for a minimum of three years afterwards by providing volunteers for site assistance and a minimum financial commitment of $5,000 to assist with maintenance of the homeandongoing services for the resident in the home.Phase I services will include shelter, advocacy, life mentoring and job skills training.
Phase IIof the project includes the rehabilitation of an existing building on the church property,which currently is vacant and consists of 15 bedrooms and common areas that include a kitchen, showers andbathrooms. Residents livingin the temporaryversion of the tiny homes will utilize the phase II building facilities for services and social enterprise including dorm living for residents enrolled in the social enterprise incubator program. This building will also house two full-time site managers, homeless advocates, social service, mentoring, vocational education, as well as, provide a place for visitors to stay for short or long term missions. Phase II enterprises and housing will be short-term employment and housing for up to two years.
Phase IIIof the project is a permanent solution to homelessness in Tiny or Small homes on a 1- acre lot nearby. The vacant lot is currently being purchased through the County of Sacramento in a tax sale. Conditional use of the lot will include the requirement to build low-income housing for lease or purchase. Currently we are working with attorneys on two legal structures to insure compliance with the County that includes building a “co-op” or “condominium” type legal structure so residents can lease or purchase the homes. The projected timeframe for this portion of the project would be to begin construction phases January 1, 2018. Additional services in this phase will include access to permanent housing, coaching and career or vocational schooling.
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 $10,000 to build and place. Rent is a bargain at $350-$550 per month depending on income. 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.