Tiny Homes for Austin's Homeless

Texan Good Samaritans built a village for those in need—no public funding necessary.


Charlie Click was homeless and living in his car in Austin, Texas, when a stranger in a white truck offered him a sandwich and a fresh pair of socks. When he was in his late 50s, Click had lost his home and most of his possessions after a yearslong spiral that included four prison terms and two cancer diagnoses. The ordeal had left Click alone and dependent on pills and alcohol to cope, but the stranger's kindness started a chain of events that would reverse the course of his life.

The Good Samaritan had been dispatched by Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a faith-based charity that delivers food to needy Austin residents. The organization had also constructed a village nearby for homeless people. Urged on by the socks-and-food-delivering stranger, Click applied for residency and was accepted. He drove the vehicle where he had been sleeping to Community First! Village, a neighborhood with neat rows of micro-homes and R.V.s situated on the outskirts of town, northeast of central Austin. Freshly paved roads and tree-covered walking paths passed by wooden porch swings, a community center, and gardens bursting with produce. There was a barbershop, an art studio, a chapel, and an outdoor movie theater. Click moved into a single-room cottage with canvas walls, essentially a glorified tent—"the cheapest thing going," he says—and found work on-site. After years of wandering, he was home.

"I'm in a place where I can not only be secure, but I can be secure until I die," Click recalls thinking. "I can't describe when that feeling hit me—'wow, I don't have to go anywhere.'"

Set on a 51-acre parcel of land eight miles from the Texas State Capitol, Community First! Village opened its doors in late 2015 and has become one of the nation's most renowned private programs for alleviating homelessness. The property houses more than 180 formerly homeless people in a tightknit neighborhood. Each residence has a porch facing a public space that encourages interaction with neighbors, a crucial design feature for a vulnerable population recovering from years of isolation.

Monthly rents range from $225 for a micro-home to $430 for a family-sized R.V. The streets have names like "Peaceful Path," "Goodness Way," and "Grace & Mercy Trail." Residents support themselves financially by working in maintenance, cleaning, landscaping, gardening, animal husbandry, auto mechanics, woodworking, blacksmithing, and hospitality for visitors who rent some of the tiny homes through Airbnb. To keep rents down, the least expensive units come without bathrooms or kitchens, so residents use shared bathhouses and open-air cooking pavilions that are dispersed less than a minute's walk from each doorstep. Founder Alan Graham calls it "an R.V. park on steroids."

Graham, a 63-year-old former real estate developer, co-founded Mobile Loaves & Fishes with friends from his church in 1998. The ministry began as the truck delivery program and branched out into housing years later. The secret to the village's success, he says, is providing more than a roof and a bed. It's a matter of absorbing homeless people into a community where they can find support, mentors, friendships, and reliable paid work.

A "housing first" philosophy of homeless care doesn't go far enough to fix the problem, Graham says. "Housing will never solve homelessness. But community will."

To encourage a sense of community, public spaces abound: The Alamo Drafthouse sponsored a 500-seat outdoor amphitheater where movies are projected from an Airstream trailer. Residents tend organic gardens and harvest eggs from chickens. Volunteer groups from Austin serve meals regularly at long, covered communal tables. Community members have access to a health clinic, counseling, drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, and hospice care. An on-site columbarium with ashes of deceased neighbors serves as a reminder that they are welcome to stay for life. Around 50 volunteers who have never been homeless, referred to as "missional" residents, live in the community full time and provide support to vulnerable residents struggling with the transition to permanent housing. They lead Bible studies, host cookouts, and pay regular visits to sick or isolated neighbors.

"We call our community a 250-bedroom, $18 million mansion," Graham says. "We all live in the same house. Your bedroom happens to be your 200 square feet over there."

Graham lives on site with his wife in a 399-square-foot tiny house. He wears the same uniform almost every day: a long-sleeved Columbia fisherman's button-down with the Mobile Loaves & Fishes logo above one breast pocket and the word Goodness over the other. A silver crucifix hangs prominently over his chest. He wears glasses and a Papa Hemingway–style white beard across his face, which is almost always shielded—indoors and out—beneath a ball cap that also bears the group's emblem.

A native of southeast Texas, Graham speaks with a kindly drawl. He's devoutly Catholic but cusses when it's necessary and exudes a calming air of approachability. Despite a former life as a developer in one of America's hottest real estate markets, he has slept outside on Austin's streets more than 250 times to gain a better understanding of the homeless plight.

From Charity Food Truck to Community Village

In the late 1990s, Graham and four parishioners from St. John Neumann Catholic Church bought a used pickup truck from which to pass out meals and supplies to homeless people. They faced a steep learning curve. All of the founders were white and wealthy; they knew little about the lives of the people they were trying to serve. "We were clueless," Graham wrote in Welcome Homeless, a memoir about his life.

The group needed someone who knew what it was like to live on the streets without family, food, and hope. They found their man in Houston Flake, a homeless and illiterate man who took Graham into an urban forest in South Austin—a wooded green space where many of the city's homeless choose to live, a community of cardboard box shelters and tents. "I was a traveler in a foreign land," Graham wrote in his book. Flake introduced Graham to a woman named Marge, a former junkie who had spent time in prison and now lived in the woods. After Flake wrapped her in a bear hug and kissed her, Graham felt reluctant to even shake her hand. "Where had that hand been?" he recalled wondering.

If he really wanted to help homeless people, Graham realized, he would need to be willing to touch them.

It wasn't long after the launch of the charity food truck that Austin's homeless people began to recognize it on the streets. The ministry expanded into a full-time nonprofit, which today dispatches 12 pickup trucks that roam Austin's streets 365 days a year. Since 1998, the trucks have served more than 5.5 million meals. As he built relationships with the homeless people who visited the truck, Graham also began raising money to shelter them in R.V.s throughout the city.

Over time, Graham developed an understanding of his homeless neighbors' needs. Even well-intentioned public efforts to provide housing and shelter, he concluded, were systematically ill-equipped to deal with the deep personal challenges that lead to chronic homelessness.

"Government cannot mitigate this problem," says Graham, who describes his political views as "conservative, but probably more libertarian." Americans, he says, "are abdicating this responsibility to city hall, the state government, Washington, D.C. That is unfair. They don't have the money, they don't have the ability, they don't have the understanding of why this is happening. Government housing is a transaction. The government builds or supports the creation of housing, but there's no community involved in the life of those developments."

Homelessness Rising

Today, Austin is a boomtown, with well-funded tech companies clamoring to plant their flags there. Drawn by Austin's warm weather, a thriving music scene, and the state's lack of personal income tax, well-paid college graduates and families have poured into the area. Festivals like Austin City Limits and South by Southwest draw thousands of visitors each year, marking the city as a cultural hub. For three years in a row, U.S. News & World Report has named Austin the best place in America to live.

The rapid growth and popularity, however, have drastically increased the cost of living. The Austin Board of Realtors reported that the city's median home price reached $410,000 in July, compared to the national median price of $280,800. Despite recent efforts to ease building restrictions, Austin's zoning rules limit high-density housing and restrict building heights in some areas of the city, which reduces the number of units available and, naturally, drives up the cost of living.

From 2018 to 2019, Austin's homeless population rose from 2,147 to 2,255—a 5 percent increase—according to an annual count conducted by the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, an Austin-based nonprofit. Nationwide data collected by the Department of Housing and Urban Development show a 2 percent increase in homelessness over a similar time period.

Lawmakers in Austin have taken notice. In August, the city appointed a "homelessness czar" to oversee programs and initiatives to reduce the number of people sleeping on the streets. In June, after hours of debate at city hall, the City Council voted to overturn a law banning urban camping, making it legal for people to pitch tents in most public areas as long as they don't block traffic or cause a hazard.

Locals who oppose the new rule fear it could leave Austin looking like San Francisco, whose highly visible homeless population has surged by 30 percent in the last two years. "We have to act decisively and deliberately and in a big way now," Austin Mayor Steve Adler said after a July trip to West Coast cities facing the worst of the homelessness crisis. "Because if we don't, this is a challenge that will spiral out of control."

NIMBY Uproar

Years before, Graham saw this coming. While the mobile food truck served an important role in alleviating the symptoms of homelessness, it could go only so far to address its root causes. He had an idea: Instead of just providing food and shelter, what if he could build an entire neighborhood for people who were chronically homeless? More than a house for one person or family; a community for hundreds, together.

After decades working in Austin real estate—negotiating deals, securing permits, navigating the city's zoning rules, and gaining approval from the right bureaucrats—Graham knew the system well and had relationships with Austin power brokers. Building an R.V. park would be nothing compared to the projects he had already seen through hundreds of times. How hard could it be?

In 2006, Graham drew up a detailed plan for a community that he intended to build on undeveloped land owned by the city. The first stages of planning showed promise. He presented the idea to Austin's then-mayor, Will Wynn, who was sympathetic and supportive—his own grandfather had been a homeless alcoholic. Graham had another powerful champion in Mike Martinez, a City Council member, who helped him find 17 acres in East Austin for the first phase of building. In spring 2008, the Council voted unanimously to grant Graham's nonprofit a long-term lease.

Graham's excitement at the project's rapid momentum lasted only until the first neighborhood meeting that summer, where he presented the idea to the public. It was a disaster. More than 50 neighborhood residents came to stop the plan.

The Austin Chronicle reported that Graham and his allies were "under siege." Before the meeting began, a man angrily confronted Graham, and when Martinez tried to step in, the man called him a "filthy pig." Graham says he watched another person spit on Martinez.

"It just flat turned into Armageddon," Graham says. "It was awful. The police were called."

A long line of speakers rolled out the typical NIMBY ("not in my backyard") tropes, warning that Graham's project would bring in drug addicts, rapists, and murderers—or, worse, lower property values. People attacked Graham personally, unveiling tax documents with his family's home address.

"The comments were vicious," Graham says. "It's NIMBYism at its highest level. It's an infection and an indictment on our culture."

At the meeting, some asked why Graham wasn't building the mobile-home park next to his house in Westlake, one of the city's wealthiest enclaves. (At the time, Graham and his wife were using their spare bedrooms to shelter homeless people until the R.V. park could be built.) At least one person affiliated with Graham's project acknowledged that this critique hit home.

"I don't know if I would want a homeless community in my neighborhood, I really don't," Bruce Agness, a member of the Community First board who also lives in Westlake, says. "I get that, even though I co-founded this thing."

At the end of the meeting, the neighborhood voted unanimously, 52–0, in opposition.

The intensity of the meeting spooked Martinez, whose seat on the City Council could have been jeopardized if he didn't change course. He called a press conference the following day and announced that the project would be postponed.

Graham and his team were deflated by the response. The exhausting process convinced Graham that he could not work within the city government apparatus if he wanted to succeed. Austin had too many regulations, too many rules, too many restrictions, and too many NIMBYs. "I think government ought to get out of our way and let the people do what we can do," Graham says. But in order for the government to get out of his way, Graham needed to get out of the government's way. And he found a clause in Texas land law that would allow him to do just that.

Outside City Limits

Having exhausted his political capital and most options for viable land within Austin's city limits, Graham determined that he could no longer wait on the city's political process. Four years had passed since he had the idea for a mobile home park, and, having been run out of every neighborhood where he proposed a site, he had little to show for his work. He devised a plan to build in a place where city council members and zealous NIMBYs couldn't stop him.

Unlike most urban areas, unincorporated Texas land isn't bound by strict zoning rules. The region surrounding Austin is a frontier-like place when it comes to architectural experimentation, and if Graham could find a tract of land beyond city limits, he could do virtually whatever he wished.

"When that revelation hit me, it was 'Katie, bar the door,'" Graham says. "We're gonna get this done, and there's nothing that NIMBYs can do to stop us."

With a private blessing from Lee Leffingwell, the new mayor, Graham found and raised money to buy an available tract less than 10 miles from downtown. Austin transitions from urban to rural quickly, allowing access to a vast homeless population that's concentrated downtown. When Graham and his team visited, they found "a crummy, crap-filled piece of land" full of weeds and three tons of trash and debris. Over several weeks, volunteer crews hauled away more than a thousand used tires and filled 20 dumpster trucks with garbage. They even discovered two stolen cars among the weeds.

"It was just what we needed," Graham recalls. They broke ground and started building. The first residents moved into their tiny homes in 2015. Graham's dream had become reality.

Not Lonely Anymore

A day in the village is not unlike any small neighborhood. But here, residents live much of their lives in the open. On any given afternoon, the air fills with noise of conversations from porch to porch, the occasional clang from the blacksmith workshop, or the grind of a power tool in the community garage. When you're outside, it's almost impossible to be alone—and that's the point. Unlike in modern suburbs, where so much of life is hidden behind closed doors and privacy fences, problems in this neighborhood never remain hidden for long, which allows the community to respond quickly.

"Most people in the United States today live in these hermetically sealed single-family sarcophaguses that we call the American dream, in these isolated subdivisions," Graham notes. "You don't know your neighbors. You don't know if they're battling addictions. You don't know if they're wanting to put a shotgun in their mouth and pull the trigger with their big toe. In our community, we know everything."

Life in the village, Graham says, is "absolutely peaceful, with a side salad of tension."

No one claims that Community First! is a utopia. Disputes do break out. One of Graham's own neighbors tried to sue him twice—once for $20 and the other time for $5—over small tenant issues that were later settled privately. (Graham and the man today remain neighbors and friends.)

"Every now and then there's a fight," Graham says. "People yelling and screaming at each other sometimes. Some of that is fueled by mental health issues going back to traumatic childhood backgrounds." Community leaders work with offenders by practicing restorative justice, an approach to conflict resolution that involves reconciliation and repairing the harm caused, but they call the police when needed.

Since the first residents moved in, crimes have occurred, but mostly of the petty variety: a stolen debit card here, a missing bicycle there. There have been no reports of rape, murder, or serious violence, Graham says. Guns are not allowed. When one resident held up a neighbor with a knife, he was caught, charged, and convicted. He did not return.

In cases of attempted crime on the property, it's almost impossible to get away with anything here anyway: Security cameras record the property's open areas, and life is so public that few misdeeds go unnoticed.

Applicants are screened before being accepted for residency, with prerequisites that they have been homeless for at least a year in the Austin area and that they undergo a background check. A history of substance abuse does not disqualify someone, nor does a criminal record like Click's. But people convicted of murder, kidnapping, or sex-related crimes are not admitted. Those who continue to struggle with addiction are provided with access to rehab options, counseling, support groups, and relationships with missional residents to help them along.

Faith was a driving force in the founding and remains a sustaining one within the community, although participation in services is not required for residents. Most of the missional residents come from Christian backgrounds, and there's a chapel on site for worship and contemplative prayer. Church groups visit and volunteer time or serve meals.

"We're driven by God," says Agness, the board member. "A lot of people gloss over that."

For some residents, the transition from a life on the streets to a warm bed is difficult. "It takes some people three or four or five months to get used to having a place to go to where they can close the door and not worry about somebody coming in and taking their belongings," Agness says. "For some people, it takes two or three months before they'll sleep on the bed. They sleep on the floor."

Residents who have lived for years in isolation also can take time growing accustomed to being in close proximity to others. Click, for instance, holed himself up for months before beginning to engage with his neighbors. Others are known to go out of their way to avoid seeing other residents en route to meals or the bathhouses. 

"Some guys are such introverts that they get off the bus, walk along the property line, jump the fence, and go into their tiny house. They don't want to see anybody," says Nancy Miller, a missional resident who has lived in the village since 2015. "And that's cool. They don't have to be like us and want to hang out with everybody."

With homelessness rates increasing, the village is growing. Construction crews broke ground in October 2018 to expand the enterprise, bringing the population to about 500 people, with 20 percent of the units for missional residents. Once everyone is moved in, which the organization expects will occur around three years from now, the ministry will house one-fourth of Austin's chronically homeless population, defined as those without a home for more than a year.

About 15,000 people volunteer at Community First! every year. The organization hosts a quarterly symposium to share strategies for replicating the village's success that draws representatives from local governments and nonprofits across the nation. Mobile Loaves & Fishes has helped spawn food truck ministries in other cities around the country, including New Orleans, Nashville, and San Antonio.

In 2019, Click's life took another turn for the better. He met a woman, Tracy, who also lives in the Community First! Village. They had a May wedding in the neighborhood's Unity Hall, and he traded his bachelor's canvas home for a family-sized place up the hill, on Grace & Mercy Trail.

NEXT: A Tiny Reform to a Massachusetts Booze Law Reform Faces Big Opposition

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  1. So, as you would expect, the main problem in solving homelessness is government regulation. And the best approach is to get out of the reach of the government.
    Damn, whodathunkit?

    The dems have to do something about those Christians; soon people might think governments might not have all the answers.

    1. Been reading a book on the Great Depression, The Forgotten Man. Not sure how reliable the author is, and it’s written in a more talky folksy manner than I like; reminds me a lot of the Slate or Vox or Atlantic articles which are not Progressive clap-trap, but are several times as long as they need to be, and you wish the author would just get to the point.

      Anyways … it says that before the Great Depression, black unemployment was actually slightly less than white, and that blacks were migrating north to where their kids could actually go to public schools and get educated. My first reaction was that it figures that FDR’s welfare crap put an end to that nonsense, and LBJ’s War on Poverty sealed the deal; haven’t got far enough to know how much Hoover the SJW figured in the matter. Minimum wage laws were racist and classist, all the other social engineering laws were the same, and here in this article, my first thought was, how’d this guy get around zoning laws? Now I see — he moved outside the city.

      Yup, government created the problems,and government prevents people from solving them. Not much has changed.

    2. There is something very sad about the fact that Austin’s government has made it so that homeless can live permanently in tents on the capital steps, but illegal to build a community of permanent tents where the homeless could live. Imagine if an inspector from the city showed up and saw tents without plumbing or electrical. The scandal!

  2. This is a good story to save for when folks tell you that only government can do anything about homelessness, or anything else.

    1. On the healthcare front, in Oklahoma City, not that far from Austin, a free-market, accept-no-insurance surgery center is providing surgery at reasonable prices that have actually gone DOWN since 1997:


      This is one of the most interesting interviews I have heard on how healthcare prices have gotten so out of control.

  3. That guy’s socks are too tight.

    1. Good one, I like it! I have to admit, it took me a wee tad to figure out you were writing about the photo there…

    2. He’s also flipping the bird.

    3. The least they could do is make him taller.

  4. What if these good folks get busted for helping house any illegal immigrants? Will they then be shut down? Perhaps the charitable folks will be punished as well, for “aiding and abetting”? “Papers please”, says The Man! “One of you has sinned! Has crossed an invisible line in the sand! Now ALL of you must SUFFER!”

  5. After 2 homeless people killed under Baton Rouge overpass, loved ones mourn ‘senseless’ violence.


  6. “We’re driven by God,” says Agness, the board member. “A lot of people gloss over that.”

    And there it is – there’s no reason you need God to feed the hungry, heal the sick, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless and yet where are these good, progressive Austinites? NIMBY, that’s for sure. Sure, we’ll attend rallies and protests and vote for good progressive policies and politicians to force somebody else to take care of the problem, and doesn’t that prove we’re just as caring and compassionate and over-flowing with the milk of human kindness as Jesus? No, you evil fuckers, it doesn’t. You want to help other people? Get out there, roll up your sleeves and get to work. If you spent one tenth the amount of time and energy actually helping people as you spend agitating for somebody else to help them, you’d do ten times more good.

    This is a hell of a good feel-good story. From the tiny houses to the community-building to the admission that it’s not a perfect solution to all the problems in the world but it’s something, it shows what people can do when they recognize that they’re better off doing things themselves and getting government out of the way.

    My favorite part of this though was the part where the rich white guys funding this project realized they didn’t know a damn thing about homelessness and instead of going to UT-Austin and funding a big-ass study on homelessness by academic experts on the subject, they just went and hired an actual fucking homeless guy to tell them how to get things done. Bravo.

    1. I got a kick out of the guy(s) jumping the fence to get to their tiny home because they don’t want to meet other people, and yet they are still welcome in the community. Any community design which allows that sure can’t be government-inspired. All you have to do is think of Stalinesque concrete housing projects and realize the difference. Here you can choose BOTH privacy and community, in whatever doses suit your needs at te moment. Concrete housing projects don’t allow either.

      1. Good points, good catch! The liberals are correct about “tolerance” and “diversity” (when they talk of these things at least; I am NOT saying that enough of them walk their talk. Few of us do). Let everyone “do their own thing” to the maximum extent possible (short of the obvious rape-murder-etc.). Sad to say, concrete block housing and many other manifestations and infestations of “government charity” lack exactly what you mentioned here.

        1. I’ve lived in cities, suburbs, and the boonies. Cities have no privacy but you can walk to just about everything you need. The boonies have privacy but you have to have a car to get anything. The suburbs have no privacy and you have to have a car, the worst of both.

          This place struck me as a distinct combination. You can’t have a car; no place to put it, and if you owned a car, you probably wouldn’t qualify to live there. But you get both privacy and no privacy. I bet the tiny homes are pretty close together, and being small makes the front doors even closer together. Then there’s the idea of no inside kitchens or bathrooms, allowing smaller homes while forcing people to get outside and say hello once in a while, even if they do want to hop a fence to avoid the main entrance. It actually sounds like a good place to live if you don’t have much money or possessions.

          Semi-OT: the military taught me how to get along with people I couldn’t stand: you can’t quit and they can’t fire you; the only way to get out or get transferred is to punch an officer in the face. There was something educational about learning to tolerate assholes. I think a homeless community like this would have the same effect. The employed world still has co-workers and neighbors you don’t like, but if they get too obnoxious, you can quit, or they can get fired, and you can always move. Here sounds more like the military, and I bet some of the goodness of a place like this is learning to tolerate your fellow assholes while still having the last resort possibility of moving out.

          I bet psychiatry majors could get a lot of PhDs by living in places like this. Then they could get cushy jobs advising governments on how to improve their concrete blocks, and this community would keep proving them wrong.

          1. I bet psychiatry majors could get a lot of PhDs by living in places like this. Then they could get cushy jobs advising governments on how to improve their concrete blocks, and this community would keep proving them wrong.

            Actually taking people by the hand and teaching them some self-sufficiency and – more importantly – building them up by teaching them to take pride in their self-sufficiency doesn’t pay nearly as well as teaching them to rely on the government and how are you going to afford your virtue-signaling Tesla with the “Think Globally, Act Locally” bumper sticker unless you think locally and act globally?

            Not to mention which, teaching people self-sufficiency and – even worse – teaching them to be proud of their self-sufficiency is a positive evil when you’re trying to get them to rely on government.

            Reminds me of the thing I’d seen the other day – you know why the global warming folks go after America for polluting rather than the Chinese for polluting even worse? Because the Chinese are already communists.

            See, it’s not about helping people, it’s about helping yourself by helping government.

            1. Well done Jerryskids! Go Jerryskids go!

              “…it’s about helping yourself by helping government.”! Indeedy!

          2. Psychiatry is not a college major. It is a medical specialty. It requires medical degree MD or DO then about 5 years residency and passing board exam from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

            1. Psychiatry is the “education major” of medical specialties.

              1. Talk with me when you are ABPN certified.

                1. You bet SIV got his Always Banging Poultry Ninja certification.

                2. Okay, Niles.

                  1. Heh.

                    Does he hook up with Daphne at the end?

            2. All so you can meet with a patient for 15 minutes, give them a 10 question multiple choice quiz, then prescribe them an SSRI at the end of the visit.

  7. The most obvious cause of homelessness is that Drumpf has ruined our economy with his high-tariff / low-immigration policies. As AOC has explained, many people need 2 or 3 jobs to survive. It’s not surprising that some Americans cannot afford a place to live when times are this tough.

    The solution, of course, is the Koch / Reason economic agenda — (1) unlimited, unrestricted immigration, and (2) no minimum wage.


    1. You are doing God’s work reminding those of us here who have forgotten for a few minutes that this story isn’t about homelessness or private charity or libertarian ideas, as with everything else, it’s all about Trump. I am ashamed to say, going back and re-reading my comment, I realized that I had made an utterly OT comment by neglecting to tie my comment to Trump. In my defense, however, the author of the piece has somehow managed to write this story about Trump without even mentioning Trump and I shall vow to do better at calling out such a basic failure of journalism. I am grateful for your being here to remind us of what’s really important.

      And may I say lest I forget later, appropriate seasonal greetings to you and yours, whatever seasons you may or may not celebrate and whatever companions you may or may not refer to as companions.


        1. My Trump trumps your Trump!

          TRUMP, Trump, Trump, Trump, TRUMP! Let me Trump you UP!

      2. I’m a Koch / Reason libertarian and a disciple of Shikha Dalmia. That means I analyze every issue in terms of how terrible Drumpf is and how wonderful immigration is.

        1. I’m a Koch/Reason libertarian

          That’s funny… I just thought You sounded like a whiny bitch. Are you a boy, girl or non-identifying and—second question— how has a Mexican somehow offended you today? Jesus Christ, bitch, do you live with other people? They must hate you.

          1. So you’re saying you finally realized he was doing a dead on parody of you. Well done.

            1. It’s the other way around. LTAL showed up in response to OBL.

              1. Meh… i’ve Moved on. Like there is a shortage of GOP dicks around here to play with.

                1. You’re into playing with GOP dicks?

                  1. oh no you din’t! well played sir and you beat me to it

      3. I was noticing two things about the comments for this page: (1) there was some great conversation, (2) OBL, lc1789, JesseAz, Nardz, etc. were absent. Then OBL had to show up.

        1. PLEASE let’s all stop granting social cred to posters by using their initials a la alexandria ocasio cortez. doing so allows them to be raised in the media as something far more than they are.

          open borders…sure. as long as they get nothing once here. most folks are miffed at the drain on services, not the people themselves. who wouldn’t want to escape from mexico

      4. It’s a satire account.

    2. OpenBordersLiberal-tarian….
      This is a parody account, right…?

      (I always ask, but I never get an answer…)

      1. Yes, he’s a socialist and an alt-righter who hates libertarians.

        1. You misspelled boring.

    3. Oh, go paint yourself purple and moo.

    4. Shut up, socialist. You’ll never get your fucking $15/h. And America’s nonwhite. Get over it.

      And times aren’t “tough” economically, you little bitch. They’re the best they’ve ever been.

  8. Guns are not allowed


    This place is a ticking time bomb. If we don’t have a homeless population with significant mental health issues equipped with high-powered assault weapons who is going to stop nutcase A from carrying out a mass slaughter? Nutcase B won’t have an AR-15 so no dice there. Geesch… it’s only a matter of time before “Peaceful Way” becomes Bloodbath Alley with that type of planning! Think, people, think! M.A.T.H., dude!

    1. Dude, either be a parody account or don’t. Trying to do both just looks lame.

    2. It’s only a matter of time before “Peaceful Way” becomes Bloodbath Alley.

      Oh, you mean just like the school system which has had so much of it they now just simplify the name to another “school shooting”.

      You have a point; no matter how sarcastic you might of tried to make it. I’d be surprised if the “mission” members aren’t equipped with some sort of weapon.

      1. So what you are saying is that more guns means less deaths? Hmmm…

        A member of the Saudi Air Force training to be a pilot killed three people at Naval Air Station Pensacola before he was shot dead by officers responding to the scene, the authorities said.

        1. Exactly — Notice the “…before…”

          For a “well-regulated” population… The government shall not infringe…. That doesn’t mean the people get to manipulate it by taking “well-regulated” completely out of the equation.

          I interpret that as saying so long as aggressive use of weaponry usage is “well-regulated” the government shall not infringe ones right to own weapons. However; That doesn’t inherently or even hint at some idea that any individual is “entitled” by it to override private property rights; nor does it put government in a position to willy-nilly regulate weapon ownership in “well-regulated” groups. Which are groups who consistently use weaponry in self-defense instead of aggressively.

  9. It’s a good effort and a good example of private charity, but it isn’t going to “solve homelessness” except for the small subset of people who actually want to, and are able to, transition into that kind of housing.

    As for the complaints of NIMBYism, heaven forbid that people whose retirement depends on their real estate values try to preserve them! See, most people are not wealthy developers with a diversified portfolio and their home represents most of their net worth.

    1. My thoughts exactly when I saw the sub-head referring to “Good Samaritans”. You know the story of the good Samaritan? Some evil fucker who stopped to help one single person instead of helping everybody. How much better would it be if he had been a Good Pharisee and publicly preached about others’ obligations to help the less-fortunate without lifting a finger or sacrificing a thing to help others himself? The Good Pharisees in Austin are far more virtuous than those cursed Good Samaritans aren’t they?

      1. Good grief, are you really that stupid? Insipid, virtue signaling, self-righteous sarcasm is all you have to contribute?

        My point is that homelessness isn’t primarily caused by a lack of cheap homes, for the most part, it’s caused by bad government policies and incentives. Private charity certainly can help the small percentage of people who simply have fallen on hard times, but it can’t help those whose lives have been destroyed by government policies in the first place.

        1. WTF? Government policy creates homelessness?

          That must be the policy that encourages addiction, right? Or the policy that promotes mental illness? Or maybe all the programs that tell people to just reject all social norms, tell the boss and bank to shove it, and embrace the inner hobo in us all?

          1. “policy that encourages addiction” <— That certainly does entail ever single "helping" handout government has short of criminal-defense.

            Minimum wage for the "poor" – Don't work at all; get $20/hr subsidy
            Minimum wage for the "rich" – Work all day; billed $20/hr taken.

            My name is Robin Hood – I steal for the working rich and give it to the lazy poor so they can keep buying those 21st century drugs, get knocked-up a few more times by dope-dealer #10 and tell all "productive" elements of society to "shove it".

            1. In SF, there’s a ‘charity’ which runs a restaurant in the Bay View. Legal, 501c3, largely funded by the city (taxpayers), and the kids get the legal M/W.
              Now, take a look at that: Along with the pernicious effect of a M/W causing the closure of businesses, it also trains kids to assume that only the government can provide for their welfare; no ‘business’ can!
              Of course not when the ‘business’ competes with a taxpayer-funded operation.
              M/W causes harm far beyond the obvious.

          2. That must be the policy that encourages addiction, right?


            Or the policy that promotes mental illness?


            Or maybe all the programs that tell people to just reject all social norms, tell the boss and bank to shove it, and embrace the inner hobo in us all?

            That too.

            I’m glad you’re paying attention.

            In case that was your feeble attempt at sarcasm, I encourage you to reflect how the US government does, in fact, do all those things.

        2. I’ve been homeless. I notice most people who argue about the causes of homelessness have never been homeless.
          Homelessness is not caused by a poor economy. There were two groups of homeless people when I was homeless. The first (my group) were young people who left home or were kicked out by heir parents because of disagreements, drugs, or abuse. This is a temporary situation in which you need to get back on your feet and spend some time getting your early adult life together.
          The second group are the long term homeless people, who invariably have severe mental health or substance abuse issues.
          I never met a homeless person who was just a normal person, or a family, who simply couldn’t pay their rent because of job loss, got evicted, and ended up living on the streets. Generally people have backup plans, support systems, and families to prevent this from happening.

    2. NOYB2: “It’s a good effort and a good example of private charity, but it isn’t going to “solve homelessness”…”

      You are exactly correct. But, then, homelessness isn’t simply one problem. It’s often a whole bunch of problems, lumped together, which can leave one person homeless. One thing seems pretty apparent, however: the government isn’t capable of solving even ONE of them.

      1. I agree, it’s several problems. Private charity can help those people who aspire to having a regular life, are capable of it, but have simply fallen on hard times. But I think that’s probably a small percentage of all homeless.

        Many are mentally ill or drug addicted; many are former criminals; many lack education; the latter are all problems largely created by government policies and government institutions, and only by changing those destructive policies can we address the problem.

        1. Yep. In “good times,” the number of folks with serious mental issues may be as high as 40 to 50%. In “bad times,” it’s more like 30%, with the difference being those who have fallen, temporarily, on “hard times” due to the overall economy. A whole bunch of homeless facilities are also segregated by gender (no “couples” allowed), and most will not allow pets. There are quite a few homeless folks who will not give up their pets for some temporary shelter.

          1. Need to see cites, and claims from ‘The Coalition for Fair Treatment of the Homeless’ won’t do it.

          2. As mentioned in my comment above – I’ve been homeless and there are a lot of homeless people on the streets in my city. I have yet to see any actual families on the street who have lost their homes. It’s all young single people, or older people with mental health/substance abuse issues. While there could be exceptions, largely no one is letting families with small children out to die homeless on the streets.

        2. The solution is to demand 20 hours a week of work to obtain food stamps and create mountains and mountains of red tape so that no one can prove they have performed 20 hours of work. Then you can commit crimes and arrange to be jailed. That way the taxpayer can pay for all your food and shelter and private prisons will profit, stimulating the economy.

          1. No, the solution is to give them MoAR frEe sHIt.

          2. Lester224
            Just an FYI: for able-bodied adults with no dependents, a minimum of ten hours per week is required to participate in the SNAP program. (this part was not required during the “great recession,” but is back in force now.) As with ALL government programs, there is a ton of paperwork involved, which is why it can cost one dollar of taxpayer money to “give out” two dollars worth of food stamps.

            1. If you feel strongly about it, donate to food banks.

    3. A quarter of the city’s homeless is still pretty substantial.

      1. It houses 180 people for $18 million; the homeless population was upwards of 2200 and it’s still rising.

        1. Yes, for now. But it should cover a quarter if everything continues as planned.

          “Once everyone is moved in, which the organization expects will occur around three years from now, the ministry will house one-fourth of Austin’s chronically homeless population…”

          1. Yes, for now. But it should cover a quarter if everything continues as planned.

            My point is: I think they probably have identified and housed most of the people who actually can be housed this way

            1. Exactly. These are the 8-10% of the homeless population that ran into some bad luck, but are otherwise capable of sustaining themselves in a stable environment and not hurting their community.

              For the vast majority of the homeless, this simply isn’t the case. You could give them all the resources in the world and they’d still find a way to shit up their situation.

  10. Monthly rents

    How quaint!

    1. Quaint? You mean oppressive capitalist!

      1. Those “Capitalists” are oppressing my ability to be a wealthy yet utterly useless member of society… I rebel against any attempts nature places on me to be responsible for myself and actually insist I try to earn what I need or just want. Sick Capitalists (i.e. Mother Nature) I tell you; utterly sick!!! /s

  11. No government involvement? How dare you!!!

  12. I don’t usually have a lot of sympathy for NIMBY, but in the case of homeless communities, they often have a point. How many times have awe read about projects to house the homeless where they basically destroyed the place and sold the fixtures to but drugs? One supposes you could set up a community for the indigent that excluded those with drug problems, with histories of destructive behavior, or with mental issues that prevent them from functioning…right up until the ACLU sued you into the stone age.

    The cold facts are that if the deranged, the destructive, and the mentally incompetent can’t be kept off the streets, the homelessness problem is insoluble. It’s all very well to say “If this person can be made stable with medication, they shouldn’t be confined.” but if they repeatedly fail to TAKE their medication, they aren’t stable.

    1. It’s not insoluble. It just involves solutions with downsides that most people won’t be happy about. Like involuntary incarceration for the mentally ill…warehousing, basically. Because you’ll have to choose between their “right” to dig through garbage and soil themselves on the street and the reality that it’s nothing but fucking cruel to let them live that way when they’re not in their right mind and drags down life for everyone else as well.

      Not a lot of pure libertarianism to be found in those solutions.

      1. It’s not insoluble. It just involves solutions with downsides that most people won’t be happy about.

        Well there you go – it’s not a “solution” then, is it? It’s merely a trade-off. Which I think goes to the heart of libertarianism, the government is forever trying to solve problems that don’t have a solution short of flying unicorns and magical wands and genies that grant wishes instead of accepting that there are going to be necessary trade-offs of one problem for another and the question of which problem is worse than the other is a subjective value judgment only individuals have the right to make. Government necessarily tends to view the subjective as objective – despite Hillary’s assertion that government is just the things we choose to do together, I’m pretty sure she’s confusing shopping at Walmart and eating at McDonalds with men with guns locking people in cages for thinking that “choosing” involves the right to say “I’d rather not.”

        1. I would assert that the problem of the drug-addled, deranged, and/or destructive homeless HAS an obvious solution. If they aren’t willing or capable of taking responsibility for themselves, they can be placed in homes and cared for with some reasonable degree of cost-effectiveness. It’s all very swell sounding to dpsay we don’t have a right to Imprison the mentally incompetent, but the results are no good for anybody.

          Yes, there were abuses in the old system. They are ALWAYS going to be abuses. But doing away with the system did not materially improve matters.

          However; such systems should be kept as local as possible. Local government is not more corrupt than national government, but it IS less adept at hiding it.

          1. But see, this is where I would assert that this still isn’t a solution but a trade-off. The people being committed against their will “for their own good” are probably not going to agree that this is the best thing for everybody, including themselves.

            Mind you, I’m not arguing that “drug-addled, deranged, and/or destructive homeless” people should be left to roam around free as they please and I would agree that people who are a threat to themselves or others should be involuntarily committed, but I am also willing to admit that it is a violation of their rights to do so. There’s no perfect “solution” to the situation, just a trade-off I’m willing to make.

            Years ago, my daughter ran screaming into the house that there was a big snake in the yard so I grabbed my shotgun and ran out and, sure enough, there’s a big-ass rattlesnake out in the yard. Now, the rattlesnake wasn’t hurting anybody at the moment and the rattlesnake certainly couldn’t help but be a rattlesnake, it’s not like he deliberately chose to be a rattlesnake, but I still shot the shit out of that snake and I’d do it again, wouldn’t think a thing about it. But I wouldn’t argue that I have every right to shoot anything that comes into my yard, be it a rattlesnake, the neighbor’s cat or a Jehovah’s Witness. There’s a line there somewhere.

            But once you try arguing that doing what’s best for somebody against their will is perfectly fine as long as we’re all agreed it’s for the best, well, do you smoke? Are you overweight? Eat junk food? Use plastic straws? Play violent and/or sexist video games? Use the wrong pronouns? There’s a slippery slope there when you’re not willing to openly face the fact that you’re willing to make trade-offs that involve violating somebody’s rights.

            1. “But see, this is where I would assert that this still isn’t a solution but a trade-off”

              And this where people would again point out that you are an idiot.

            2. There’s no perfect “solution” to the situation, just a trade-off I’m willing to make.

              I don’t see a complex trade off here. It’s ultimately the property owners of a city who ought to decide jointly whether you can or cannot enter the city. Homeless don’t meet reasonable criteria and can be excluded. Cities should be able to just pick them up and move them outside the city. If there is no city willing to admit them, an institution is the only remaining choice.

              That’s the way it would work in a libertarian society, and that’s the way it can work even in our society. It doesn’t seem to violate any rights or principles.

        2. “it’s not a “solution” then, is it? It’s merely a trade-off”

          This is why people think you’re an idiot.

      2. It’s not insoluble. It just involves solutions with downsides that most people won’t be happy about

        To many people in the US, losing a few percent of the value of their home is more than merely “not being happy”.

        Not a lot of pure libertarianism to be found in those solutions.

        Where do you see the conflict between a bunch of neighbors getting together and saying “we don’t want X to happen in our neighborhood” and libertarianism?

        1. Freedom of association right up until you decide not to associate with a sympathetic minority of the population. It’s the same way as their immigration arguments. It is even worse when you considered the land the opposed it being built on was city land, thus it belongs to the people, who said no. My God how evil can you be, to actually want a say as to what happens on land paid for by your taxes?

          1. Building it on private property in a lower developed area was a better solution. This is why it was a success.

          2. Freedom of association right up until you decide not to associate with a sympathetic minority of the population. It’s the same way as their immigration arguments.

            You realize we’re talking about Austin and therefore the people asserting their right to keep undesirables out of their neighborhood and the people asserting you have no right to keep undesirables out of your neighborhood are the exact same people, right?

          3. In libertarian society, cities would be big HOAs. If you don’t like the restrictions you city imposed on your ability to associate, move elsewhere.

            Any rights to freedom of association you see beyond the libertarian setting is not a libertarian right. Meaning, libertarianism doesn’t give you an unlimited right to associate with anybody on your private property because under libertarianism, most private property would necessarily be covered by CCRs

            IOW, you misunderstand the right of free association in libertarianism.

  13. Thanks for this article Mr. Moody. I’ve actually been kicking around developing something similar for my hometown over the last few months.

  14. Thank you for this wonderful article.

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    Whoever saves a life saves the world entire.

    Happy holidays.

  15. Pol #1 – “It seems some do-gooders are building homes for the homeless”

    Pol #2 – “That could impact the vote on my homelessness bill. WE GOTTA DO SOMETHING!”

  16. Compare to the left coast that spends a billion public dollars just to see the problem become demonstrably worse the next year.

    1. You are confusing the homeless industry, designed to employ lots of government and NGO workers, and also provide lots to virtue signaling for politicians, officials, and activists, with any effort to actually eliminate homeless people.

      1. “…with any effort to actually eliminate homeless people.”

        What might that be?

  17. In 2019, Click’s life took another turn for the better. He met a woman, Tracy, who also lives in the Community First! Village.


  18. You mean the “urbanites” who according to my political divide map hold the MAJORITY of Democratic voters are a bunch of hypocritical NIMBY-ists that squeal like little pigs when it comes to being asked to “put up” with homing the homeless of which they base their entire >>>self-proclaimed<<>moral ground<<< is actually just the enslavement of others against their own WILL..

  19. “…Applicants are screened before being accepted for residency, with prerequisites that they have been homeless for at least a year in the Austin area and that they undergo a background check. A history of substance abuse does not disqualify someone, nor does a criminal record like Click’s. But people convicted of murder, kidnapping, or sex-related crimes are not admitted. Those who continue to struggle with addiction are provided with access to rehab options, counseling, support groups, and relationships with missional residents to help them along…”

    See anything there which tests for an ability to hold a job and not doing so?
    I didn’t, and until that is part of the criteria, this, like SF’s water-front, free homes for bums, is nothing other than ‘enabling’.

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  22. yeah, just wait until they vote in all the libtard bullshit they fled from commiefornia. they’ll wreak havoc with that, then move someplace else to flee and start the process over again

    liberalism is a mental disorder.

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  24. I know people who have tried similar approach in other Californai towns but its always the government and NIMBY’s who shut them down because They do not like competition

  25. someone tried that in LA too. the city ordered the tiny houses removed since they weren’t up to code. as if tents and cardboard boxes ARE up to code.

    1. What’s truly hypocritical of them is that “building codes”, “zoning” and Freddie-May/Mack programs are almost always the very root cause of homelessness. Driving up land and housing costs like no tomorrow and shoving more and more people into homelessness.

  26. That neighborhood meeting exemplified the basic descriptive truth behind Adam Smith’s:

    Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.

    It’s just so odd how those with property – who become the source of NIMBY and zoning and such – which drives and shapes government involvement – then turn around and pin the blame on those without property for ‘bringing in government involvement’.

  27. “Unlike most urban areas, unincorporated Texas land isn’t bound by strict zoning rules.”

    I was wondering how he could get around the long arm of the politician.

  28. Is this approach scalable – across North America? Is it dependent upon Austin’s relatively warm climate? Does the story overlook problems? Do the support services provided produce long-lasting fixes? Does the community’s success depend upon, say, a low proportion of young men?

    I agree that gov’t hurts more than it helps. But, the alternative described here – albeit a heartwarming one, esp. at this time of year – is an isolated case that seems exceedingly difficult to replicate.

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  30. Austin’s homeless crisis is so dire, a nonprofit built an $18 million tiny-home village to get the chronically homeless off the streets. New construction Take a look inside Community First Village. On the east side of Austin, Texas, 180 formerly homeless residents live in 200-square-foot tiny homes

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