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Austin’s Fix for Homelessness: Tiny Houses, and Lots of Neighbors

By Megan Kimble ~ Citylab ~

Community First! Village’s model for ending homelessness emphasizes the stabilizing power of social connections.

There are a lot of things that Richard Devore likes about the 250-square-foot tiny home he’s lived since early last year. He loves the wood cabinets in his house, the sprawling oak trees providing shade outside, the goats roaming in the pasture nearby. But most of all, he loves “the fact that I’m supposed to be here,” says Devore, who was homeless for the 13 years before he moved in. “I can relax and belong here.”

Devore lives at Community First! Village, a 27-acre master planned community just outside Austin, Texas, where more than 200 people who were once chronically homeless live in tiny homes and RVs. Everyone who lives at Community First! pays rent, ranging from $225 to $430 per month; many residents are employed on-site.

“Before I moved here, I honestly didn’t think my life would have anything other than being a homeless drug addict,” Devore says. He’d lived in an apartment for two brief stints during the years he was homeless and once held a steady job. But old habits were hard to break.

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