'Housing First' is a term that refers to a relatively new approach to solving some of society's biggest social issues. It's based on the idea that in order for the people who are 'down and out' to get back on their feet, they need a safe and comfortable place to do it in. In the past few years dozens of projects around the USA and in different parts of the world have taken the initiative to bring homeless, disabled people into affordable housing where they can finally begin to rebuild their lives.
A large percentage of homeless men and women are struggling with serious physical and mental illnesses, or battling addictions. The stress of living on the street, without access to adequate healthcare and professional counseling can make overcoming these issues next to impossible. Also, there are homeless people who want to earn a living for themselves; but without a place to shower, get a decent night's sleep and prepare themselves for an interview, the deck is stacked against them. Those of us with homes take for granted the advantages that having a place of our own really gives us in many aspects of our lives, and providing housing has actually turned out to be a cost-effective way to solve homelessness in the long-term.
But why stop there? Sure, making sure these folks have access to fresh water and food, a place to get a good night's sleep and a safe place to keep their personal belongings can give them a good foundation for improving themselves. But if we really want to give our homeless brothers and sisters the best chance at succeeding in life, we can provide more than just a house. We can provide a community.
Mobile Loaves & Fishes is in the early development stages of a master-planned community called the Community First! Village which will lift more than 200 chronically homeless, disabled individuals off the streets of Austin, Texas. But Community First! isn't just affordable housing. As the name suggests, community is key to ensuring our friends stay housed and have the support they need when tackling the big challenges that await them in their 'new life'.
The Community First! Village will have amenities that include a community garden, a workshop, a medical facility, as well as areas for worship, study and socializing. The Village is more than just a real estate development, it is a true community in development. Members of the greater Austin community are being invited to work alongside both Mobile Loaves & Fishes and our homeless friends to create a place where healing and restoration can happen.
Learn more about Mobile Loaves & Fishes' and our Community First! project at mlf.org.
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