Tonight the Circle City Villages board met with members of the Greater Gardens Neighborhood Associaton to present our plan to build a tiny house village at 1318 S Lynhurst Dr. We are thankful to partner with Lynhurst Baptist Church in pursuing this project. The plan is to build the village in two phases with 14 houses built in the first phase. After giving the first 14 residents a chance to adjust to living in this type of setting we will evaluate the right time to expand the village to 28 tiny houses. Below are renderings of our current design plan.
This is the first of many public meetings we plan to hold to communicate with neighbors about our plan. Pay attention to announcements of future meetings on this site and on our Facebook page. We look forward to engaging with more community members on how we can work together to create a place where friends experiencing homelessness can find healing and take the next steps to a sustainable life in an environment where they are supported and embraced.
Click this link to download a handout with a summary description of our plan for this site: CCV Handout 10.19.19.
The vision for Circle City Village began with conversations just over three years ago between board members, staff, and volunteers with Food 4 Souls, a faith-based outreach ministry to friends experiencing homelessness. That summer the outreach director for Food 4 Souls visited multiple locations, including Madison, WI, and the Pacific Northwest to tour tiny house villages for those experiencing homelessness and learn from others who were already doing it what was working and what they would do differently. The goal was to take the best practices from these various villages and create a model for a tiny house village for our friends experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis. What started as a suggestion and idea was slowly turning into a mission, one that would require us to create a separate team and organization to support for the long-haul.
What we have learned along the way is that projects like this take patience and a lot of time to do it in the right way. When we first started, we naively thought it would be a two-year process. With the early momentum we had, our team didn’t realize how challenging finding a location and building the political will for this project would be.
Three years later, though, the momentum is picking up again. In April and May, we officially incorporated Circle City Villages and appointed our first board to be the administrative backbone for this project. We are working with a local church to build our village on a vacant property they own. We have professionals from various fields and volunteers from three churches now working with us to help us fine-tune our plans. Currently, a design team and policy team are working on the material we need to have ready to begin the zoning process for this land to be turned into a place where people experiencing homelessness can begin the journey of healing in their lives. Things are definitely moving quickly again.
Along the way, we have met many people wanting to do their own tiny house village. Some have joined with us. Others have made a big stir for a short time only to fade away when things became challenging. Doing anything worthwhile will take time and meet resistance. Learning to have the patience and tenacity is what keeps us going and will lead us to success.
An official announcement of our location and plan is coming soon. In the meantime, keep an eye on this blog for updates on our progress toward this goal.
Tanae Howard from Fox 59 did a follow-up story on our project last week. She did a great job of capturing our current situation and the need for community partners to work with us. It also gave people a perspective of what it is currently like for people who are moved from camp to camp while waiting for permanent supportive housing or rapid rehousing options to be made available to them.
Thankfully, we have since received 3 – 5 good contacts from people interested in working with us or having land they think would work for this project. Hopefully, some of these will work out to help us get past the point of finding a location for Circle City Village.
Square One Villages in Eugene, OR has put together a 10-step road-map for building a tiny house village that is illustrated in the image below. Some people think building “tiny houses for the homeless” is as simple as building a tiny house and moving someone in. It takes much more than that, though, to make a successful environment for someone to have a chance to transition from experiencing homelessness to a stable life in housing.
Many people have told us that steps 3 and 4 can be the most time-consuming steps in the process. Our experience has shown this to be true. Building political will goes beyond getting city politicians on-board. It really gets down to working through the neighborhood political landscape. People can be excited about the idea of a tiny house village for those transitioning out of homelessness until they consider the possibility of putting the village in their own neighborhood. This is where we have been for the past year and we need people who live locally in neighborhoods to work with us to build the political will among their neighbors to welcome a small community of friends experiencing homelessness and make this part of their neighborhood identity. We have plenty of people willing to jump in and swing a hammer once we start building but we need a place to put those houses.
We currently have one organization looking into putting a small model village on some property they own. We should know more about that possibility after January. We are still looking for other community partners to work with us in creating an asset for our city and the people we know who are experiencing homelessness. If you are interested in advocating with us to create a small community for people transitioning out of homelessness, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What can a tiny house community do to help end homelessness?
When you’re first learning to ride a bike if you keep your eyes on where you are and not in front of you, you will often crash it’s only when you keep your eyes on where you’re going that you succeed. So what can a tiny house community do?
It provides a stable home; providing the security of belongings and the security of knowing where your gonna lay your head every night.
As our friends experiencing homelessness are out there in camps, sleeping on downtown streets, benches and pretty much wherever they can living life like this forces you to constantly keep your eyes on where you are. It robs you of any hope of where you’re going because it often changes nightly where you end up.
What a tiny house community can do is offer our friends stability so they can find hope. They can stop focusing on where they are and start looking forward to where they’re going. This is giving them a better success rate. Shelters are great but they are temporary solutions to an ongoing problem. A tiny house community in its whole can be a permanent solution to homelessness: providing them the needs to find trades and skills to offer jobs, providing them a sense of community, and providing them with a safe place to grow.
The idea of a tiny house community is short-term in providing transitional housing. It can be long-term in providing them with home ownership and the resources to help our friends experiencing homelessness have better long-term success. When they struggle they have a community to turn to. I understand what they’re trying to do to move the houseless off there downtown streets but moving an issue out of sight out of mind is only going to worsen their situation: adding to their problems and offering zero help!