Safety and security are fundamental needs for us. Without them, the world is difficult to navigate. In fact, many homeless people develop mental health needs, but they can make a real turn around just by having a safe place of their own, no matter what size. I’ve blogged about this in the past because it’s an issue in front of me daily. I work downtown in a city large enough to have a sizeable homeless population. I sometimes give cash, but although it’s helpful in the short-term, it isn’t a long-term solution.
I was excited to hear that there are some groups approaching this issue with compassion and sensibility. Using crowd-sourcing, the Alternative Solutions Advocacy Project is spearheading a 180-day pilot project. They will build a village of 11 tiny homes for individuals and couples called the Beloved Community Village. The project includes a common space for food preparation and gatherings as well as a place for restrooms and showers. There is more information at an article in a WestWord magazine. article. You can also get more information on the village’s website.
Why tiny homes? Denver has numerous permanent and temporary shelters (when the weather is dangerously cold), so why a village of little houses? I’ve known people “between homes” who have told me how difficult the shelters are. What little they own gets stolen; the rules are rigid and uncomfortable. The most difficult to navigate are the personal conflicts and confrontations between the residents; many find that it intolerable. Many residents are veterans, and the conflicts can be dangerous when you consider that the participants have all been trained in hand-to-hand combat. For potential residents with PTSD, the potential to get triggered is very real. The website for Beloved Community Village provides even more reasons that some people don’t fit the current system, but a tiny home will be perfect (people with service animals, disabilities, etc.). (https://www.gofundme.com/denvers-first-tiny-home-village)
Other cities have tried tiny houses with good results. With a safe, secure place to sleep and an address to put on job applications, things can really change. After all, it’s hard to get a job when your address is a homeless shelter. A home, no matter how small, can salvage dignity, self-respect, and hope.
I’ve been excited to see similar efforts in other cities and thrilled for a practical solution in Denver, Colorado. Churches are leading the way, with city approval. Why not try some innovative solutions that have fared well in other cities? if you want to support their efforts, you can donate to their crowdfunding campaign.
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