Thursday, April 7, 2016

"They treated me with dignity."

The homeless population of Austin, Texas, jumped 20% last year, so a local nonprofit called Mobile Loaves and Fishes opened an unusual housing project. Only homeless individuals are eligible to apply for one of the 140 micro-homes in a 27-acre RV park in eastern Travis County. Mobile Loaves and Fishes is Christian-based, but welcomes homeless folks of any faith or no faith.

Rents begin at $225 a month, and most "homes" are really only bedrooms with decks. Residents share kitchens, laundry and bathrooms. The rent includes access to two case managers, a food pantry, a chapel, a dog park, garden spaces, a medical center and an amphitheater where outdoor movies are shown. Perhaps most important, each resident gets his or her own postal address. Residents do jobs to keep the community running smoothly. Bonnie is a good example. She is a blind, veteran amputee who lived on the streets of Austin for years. Today, as a resident, she works as a tour guide and gardener. "I was embarrassed, wet and dirty," she said, "but they helped me clean up; gave me dry clothes, fed me and prayed with me. They treated me with dignity."

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