Austin's Utopian Homeless Village Is Becoming A Reality

    Austin's 27-acre Community First Village will eventually house 250 formerly homeless and disabled people. Can they build a real "hobo's paradise"?

    Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a social justice ministry, has been planning their new homeless community in on 27 acres in East Austin.

    The village is still being built right now, but even just the development feels like a sunny mini paradise, hiding right off the road on the east side of Austin, Texas.

    The new community will feature homes — RVs, tiny cabins, and teepees — for 250 formerly homeless for rent as low as $90.

    Ellis was homeless for six years before January, when he moved into his own RV with the help of the organization. He plans to move the RV to the Community First Village as soon as residents can move in.

    The community will also home a permaculture food forest and gardens, chickens, goats, rabbits, a woodworking and RV repair workshop, a bed and breakfast, outdoor cooking areas, a pond full of catfish, and an outdoor movie screen for community gatherings.

    Sloan's goal is to make their chicken coop part of Austin's Funky Chicken Coop Tour.

    Even the tools at the development site are brightly painted and happy looking.

    The homes at the village include mobile homes, tiny houses (the frames are shipped from Poland and can supposedly be built in around 8 hours!), and tents.

    This mobile home is decked out as a demonstration. This would house a single homeless person and cost $325, a month. But the program includes ample employment opportunities — for example, there will be fruit trees lining the property and that harvest could be used to make jams and jellies that could be sold at local farmer's markets.

    The plan is also for the village to be a gathering place for Austin's wider community to come together and form relationships with the chronically homeless.

    The community is already getting involved — there are several Eagle Scout projects on the site including this Thai jar rainwater collection tank.

    There is also a memorial garden being built on the site to remember members of the community that have died.

    Larry Williams was a vibrant and beloved part of the Mobile Loaves & Fishes homeless community. He wanted to be the first resident of the Community First Village, and in his way he was. He passed away in November 2013, but this memorial tribute to him will have a permanent place on the site.

    The song "Big Rock Candy Mountain" describes a "hobo paradise" where "hens lay soft-boiled eggs" and "the farmers' trees are full of fruit."