There is a village in Austin, Texas that supports people who were once homeless. For residents of this unique village, their tiny homes are more than just somewhere to live.

It’s a community that rebuilds lives, where folks find not just shelter but a sense of belonging. Come with us as we explore the transformation: from streets to stability, despair to hope.

The Man At The Beginning Of Everything

Justin Tyler Jr., who was among the first 400 individuals to sign up for Community First! project in 2022, was featured by journalists from several news outlets. They focused on Mr. Tyler’s story and why he chose to be part of this community.

Source: community-first

This story helps us understand more about his life and how Community First! has made a difference for him. In telling Mr. Tyler’s story, we can draw comparisons with the situation of others in the community to give us a closer look at the cause and effects of their situation.

What’s The End Goal?

The village’s premier goal is to provide a consistent source of long-term, cheap housing for the homeless people of Austin.

Source: community-first

This particular concept is laser-focused on creating a stable and sustainable living environment that those who have lived without the security and peace of home for a long time can proudly call home.

Mr Tyler’s One Room Wonder

In his interview, Mr. Tyler talks about life in the village. Amazingly enough, he has settled in quite nicely. His 200-square-foot one-room apartment is serving him just well.

Source: Flickr/ Jewelry Jones

A cursory glance at Justin’s detailed and enthusiastic retelling of his life in the village tells us that the homes in the village are small but well-designed. The spaces are optimized to ensure a cozy and private living space for people like Mr. Tyler.

It’s Essentially A Tiny House

Mr. Tyler’s house is what you would call a tiny house. Given, that it’s small, but Justin loves it as is. Why, you might be wondering? It actually makes sense when you hear the answer – it has everything he needs.

Source: community-first

Inside, he has a bed and a recliner to relax and sleep on. There’s also a full kitchenette where he can cook his meals. If anything, this well-thought-out arrangement makes it clear that Community First! means business and is going all out to improve the lives of its residents.

The Genius Of Community First!

Community First! is a purposefully designed village constructed to assist those who do not have homes, primarily due to a lack of affordable housing options in the surrounding area. The village sits on a large piece of land spanning several acres, a little way outside of Austin.

Source: community-first

Its architecture and location were carefully designed to provide a peaceful and supportive atmosphere for its occupants. Perhaps what’s most brilliant is the fact that the project’s minor and major details intersect in a larger picture to provide homeless people with a sense of stability and community.

Dotted I’s And Crossed T’s

Right now, the area around Community First! is pretty quiet and far from other places. The seclusion and quietness are on purpose, to give the people living there a peaceful environment with little to no disturbances.

Source: community-first

But as the project grows and expands, the area around it might change too. There could be new buildings or improvements to things like roads, which might make the area more connected with nearby regions or amenities.

Beyond Tiny Living Spaces

Community First! Village offers more than just tiny homes; it provides a range of community amenities designed to enhance the living experience of its residents.

Source: community-first

Among these features are shared outdoor kitchen areas, where residents can cook and socialize together. The village also has cars that everyone can use, which helps with getting around inside and maybe even outside the village

The Little Neighborhoods

The way the village is set up is unique too. The small houses are arranged in circular clusters like little neighborhoods.

Source: community-first

There are also chicken coops and gardens where people can grow vegetables. Everyone shares these, and they provide fresh food like veggies and eggs. Plus, they give residents a chance to work together and take care of something as a group.

Not Unlike A Small Town

Community First! village has many things that make it like a small town, which makes life better for the people living there. One important thing is a convenience store.

Source: community-first

It’s right in the village and has all the everyday things people need. There’s also a church where residents can go for Sunday worship and to meet with others.

There’s Also A Jewelry Studio

The village even has a jewelry studio. This is a place where people can be creative and learn new skills. Plus, there’s a medical clinic with staff, meaning that residents can get basic health care without having to travel far.

Source: community-first

These centers collectively contribute to the village’s self-sufficiency and a lively, supportive community environment.

Commuting In Community First!

People living in Community First! village are busy making their lives better there. Because of this, a lot of them don’t have their own cars.

Source: community-first

The residents usually walk around the village, which works well because of how the village is designed. Residents can also use shared recreational vehicles that are on-site.

Flashback To Life Before The Community

Before moving to Community First!, Mr. Tyler had some tough times. One big problem he had was with alcoholism. This didn’t just hurt him, but it also caused other health issues that severely impacted his quality of life.

Source: Flickr/ smith of smiths

Because of these struggles, he didn’t start talking to his neighbors until a month after he moved into the village.

Old Things Are Passed Away

Now, Mr. Tyler’s life is much different and better. He has become a well-known and active member of the Community First! Village.

Source: community-first

Particularly, he does volunteer work in the communal kitchen, to help prepare meals for other residents. He also often goes to movie nights in the neighborhood, adding to the fun and social life there.

The Resilient Human Spirit

Mr. Tyler also works with the people who build in the village. He helps get spaces ready for new people moving in, as the village expands.

Source: community-first

At first glance, you can see that Justin really cares about the community. His commitment to do good work directly shows how much his life has changed for the better. He’s now helping others and making a difference in Community First!

A Huge Success For Stakeholders

The original stakeholders of the Community First! project consider the project a huge success. And because it’s doing so well, there are big plans on the end of the shareholders to make it even bigger.

Source: community-first

According to the publication, Community First! is poised to add approximately 2,000 homes across its three neighborhoods.

A Significant Milestone

This upcoming expansion is not just a testament to the success of the project, but it also holds the potential to make a substantial impact on homelessness in Austin.

Source: community-first

The addition of these homes could address the needs of about half of the city’s homeless population, marking a major stride in tackling this critical social issue.

Community First! Leads By Example

The concept of tiny houses is not new. Neither is Community First! The first community of its kind. In fact for several years now, the idea of tiny homes as a solution for homelessness has been gaining traction. Amazingly enough, Community First! has set a great precedence.

Source: community-first

In line with this, communities similar to Community First! are increasingly appearing in suburban areas. These villages offer a unique approach to addressing homelessness, providing not just housing, but also a sense of community and belonging in a more suburban setting.

There is A Mistaken Assumption That Tiny  Homes Fall Short Of Housing Standards

A consultant who has helped cities like Houston transform their homelessness system had something to say about the misconceptions about tiny homes. Chapman Semple talks about how these tiny homes are supposed to replace those inexpensive houses that were once widely accepted.

Source: community-first

She believes that one of the reasons why tiny homes are not widely accepted is because people have given them several definitions, people believe that these homes fall short of housing standards and basic amenities like heat and indoor plumbing.

On The Road To Mass Adoption

With the Success of Community First! Comes the realization that the tiny homes concept in village setups is indeed a practical and compassionate way to help those in need of stable and affordable housing.

Source: community-first

Since 2019, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of tiny home villages similar to Community First! The number has actually gone up four times. The New York Times reported that by the time they wrote about it, there were about 124 of these neighborhoods. These numbers show the expanding acceptance and implementation of this approach as a viable solution for homelessness.