North Texas Daily

Homelessness coalition continues toward community project goal

Homelessness coalition continues toward community project goal

May 05
03:10 2016

Alexandria Reeves | Staff Writer

@alliereeves23

Denton’s Homelessness Coalition has taken the first steps toward breaking ground on a community-run housing project it plans to build in Denton county.

Fifteen of the coalition’s members visited Austin on April 19 to view a similarly designed development there called Community First, which offers affordable housing to the homeless. The coalition viewed the Austin development as a guide for the housing project it hopes to implement in Denton.

“It went really well,” leader of the coalition Patrick Smith said. “I was very impressed by the thoughtfulness and the quality of the whole development.”

The Community First development is a 127-acre community that was master planned and built up over a span of seven years, according to Smith. The development contains tiny houses, which are something the coalition has planned for Denton’s affordable housing project.

Rent runs from $225 to $325 a month, which is affordable to community members who receive their income through disability or social security benefits. The development is able to accommodate a variety of needs. Residents who do not receive any form of income can also work at one of the community’s “micro-enterprises.”

The community has several gardens that produce fruits and vegetables, and a chicken coop that provides eggs. The staff oversees the operations and the individuals who work there earn a wage to supplement their cost of living.

“There is one gentleman who had a stroke. He can get around but he has to do it slowly,” Smith said. “They put him in charge of the chicken coop that produces around 200 eggs a week. The staff oversees it, but that gentleman is able to contribute back to the community by caring for chickens and harvesting the eggs.”

The development also has an art studio where residents can learn trades such as blacksmithing or pottery making, and can even sell their art for a profit.

“Last year they sold $100,000 worth of artwork just produced by the residents in different shows in and around Austin,” Smith said.

There are plans to develop a financial model as well as drawings and narratives in order to show city council that the project will be sustainable, but the coalition does not plan to present them until later this year.

Recently, the coalition viewed several properties in Denton as potential locations for the project, but will not be making final decisions until this summer.

“We’re just in the thinking and planning stages right now so we haven’t actively done anything yet,” Smith said. “In the early part of the fall we will probably start circulating a vision document around that will have a lot of specifics in it.”

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