Homeless Ministry Evolves From Food Truck

Alan Graham, a Catholic who is founder & CEO of Community First! Village in Austin, Texas. Source: Catholic News

Homelessness is not a unique issue for urban communities across North America, however, sustainable solutions are hard to find.

Using soup kitchens and temporary shelters as tools to combat the symptoms of homeless, very few strategies have been able to get at some of the root causes and provide housing security. However, one Austin, Texas community is providing a global model for emulation.

According to Alan Graham, it all began, “Back in 1996, I went to a men’s retreat called Christ Renews His Parish. It had a profound revelatory impact on my relationship with Christ.”

Inspired by the retreat, Graham developed the idea to create Community First! Village, a mix of tiny homes and recreational vehicles on an acreage of land in suburban Austin designed for homeless persons. Containing units to house an approximate 150 people.

In the community, the formerly homeless persons are joined by a group of 40 “missionals,” adults choosing to live intentionally with the former homeless members of the community to demonstrate the ministry of presence and solidarity while providing support.

Graham started the idea initially by just thinking he and a few friends could do something to alleviate food insecurity among the homelessness population.  

Partnering with Mobile Loaves & Fishes, they would go around Austin providing meals and snacks to homeless persons in the community.

“We built this one operation on top of the ‘housing-first’ philosophy. We believe that housing is necessary but insufficient to what humans need. What humans need is human contact. What that means is that you and I need to be connected,” he said.

He added, “The corporal works of mercy are an indelible part of who we are organizationally, but the only way to live out those corporal works, and the only way to restore justice, that we will want to restore together, we must live together.”

Reflecting on the experience, Graham was extremely grateful for the ability to turn his vision for a homeless community into a reality.

Source: Catholic News