AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Downtown Austin Alliance is donating $2 million to Mobile Loaves & Fishes for Community First! Village, a 27-acre, master-planned community geared towards the chronically homeless, on Thursday.
It is the largest grant the Downtown Austin Alliance has ever given and the largest grant that Mobile Loaves & Fishes has ever received.
“This is one piece of a larger strategy that’s needed in mitigating the problems of homelessness in Austin,” said Downtown Austin Alliance President and CEO Dewitt Peart.
Homelessness has become a critical issue in Austin, and affordable housing has become an increasingly popular possible solution to the problem. The grant will be used to help fund the project’s next phase, focusing on expansion.
As community leaders announced the grant, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley praised Community First! Village for keeping people off of the streets.
“This falls in line with everything we’re trying to do as a city,” Manley said. “It offers them, really, their life back. It gives them a roof over their head and gives them their human dignity back.”
Community First! Village currently houses 140 people at its location off Hog Eye Road in east Travis County. Still growing, it has room to house more than 200 people on its current plot of land, once it reaches full capacity in 2018. The community offers a health clinic with medical services, an Alamo Drafthouse theater, a community market and a three-acre garden with fresh fruits and vegetables. It also provides places for worship, study and fellowship.
Tenants are required to pay a small amount of rent. Depending on whether they live in a micro-home, canvas cottage or RV, they may pay anywhere from $220 to $380 per month. Work opportunities, including jobs at the community’s on-site blacksmith shop, are offered for those who need a means to make money.
Last summer, Austin Mayor Steve Adler along with the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Housing and Urban Development, declared that Austin had “effectively” ended veteran homelessness. Adler said they were able to reach that goal by creating systems and programs to help homeless veterans get back on their feet and find a place to live.