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Small-home village takes big step to end homelessness

Community First! expansion breaks ground

Aerial view of small development with tiny homes, RVs, community buildings, and adjacent land
Community First! village plans to double its size in the the next three to four years
Courtesy of Mobile Loaves & Fishes

Less than a year after announcing its ambitious 10-year plan to work with the city to mitigate homelessness, faith-based nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes broke ground today on the second phase of its micro-home village Community First!, which serves Austin residents who are chronically without homes.

The first phase of the project, which broke ground in 2014, brought together volunteers, entrepreneurs, designers, staff, and city leaders to create a permanent housing model for those wishing to escape homelessness. It’s now a thriving, 24-acre community with 120 micro-homes, 100 RVs, and 20 canvas-sided cottages, as well as community gardens, food preparation and dining areas, medical and support services, wifi, an outdoor movie theater, and a direct bus line. While the community is founded in a ministry that makes and brings food to Austin residents living on the streets, it does not have any religion-based requirements for those who avail themselves of its services or seek to join the housing community.

Community First! Village garden
Courtesy of Mobile Loaves & Fishes
Community First! garden shed
Courtesy of Mobile Loaves & Fishes

The Phase II groundbreaking ceremony, was city and state leaders, influencers, and other collaborators, including state Sen. Kirk Watson, who brought along a Texas Senate proclamation honoring MLF for 20 years of “serving goodness” in the Austin community. “Mobile Loaves & Fishes has taken the significant community problem of homelessness and addressed it in the most impactful and creative of ways,” said Watson. MLF founder and Alan Graham returned the compliment to community, business, and government leaders and volunteers, calling the groundbreaking “an incredible testament to the power of collaboration and all that can be done when a community comes together to help its most vulnerable neighbors.”

The ceremony also marked the launch of the organization’s $20 million “Building Hope” capital campaign, which offers opportunities to help provide micro-homes and provide other types of sponsorship and support other sponsorship for Phase II of Community First! The expansion is expected to be completed within the next three to four years.