The Happy House may not be Empire Communities’ largest home underway in the Austin area right now, but it just might be the one with the biggest heart.
With just 190-square-feet of living space, Empire’s tiny home is being built in Community First! Village — a 51-acre community that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for men and women coming out of chronic homelessness. Community First! Village is a development of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a social outreach ministry that has been serving the homeless in Central Texas for more than two decades.
The appropriately named Happy House floor plan features a dining room, living room and sleeping area, with interior and exterior closets and a screened-in porch. Residents have access to a communal laundry area, restrooms and shower facilities, as well as outdoor kitchens, community gardens and more.
At Empire, there’s an underlying feeling of care that runs intentionally throughout our entire organization, driving what we do and how we do it. It’s present in all facets of the business, and is even reflected in our core values — by caring for our customers, having a caring attitude, building caring relationships and caring for excellence. We embrace everything that has potential to make a positive impact and strive to inspire others to do the same. With that said, Empire is as proud of our 190-square-foot Community First! Village home as we are of the much larger homes we’ve built in the Greater Austin area, just knowing that it’ll help someone in need.
The first phase of Community First! Village comprises 230 tiny, RV and park homes with Phase 2 — now under development — adding an additional 200 tiny houses, as well as 110 RV and park homes. Approximately 180 men and women found a home in the community’s first phase, with nearly 100 now moved into Phase 2. The average age of the community’s residents is 58, the majority of whom have spent approximately 10 years on the streets.
Offering affordable, permanent housing, Community First! Village also boasts features that encourage people to gather and build relationships. From the community’s outdoor movie screen and art house to the front porches of homes, the community is designed to help residents connect. Employment opportunities can be found within the village, and Capital Metro’s nearby bus stop makes it easy for residents to venture into the surrounding area for work and other needs. Genesis Gardens has farmland on the community’s grounds spanning more than ten acres, providing Community First! Village residents with fresh and free produce. An on-site clinic provides physical and mental health services, while a chapel, dog park, outdoor grill and hair salon are also at residents’ disposal. All homes are fully furnished when residents move in, and come with a fully stocked pantry and refrigerator.
HomeAid Austin and its participating builders work with trade partners to procure discounts and donations to help fund construction of homes, while the overall development of the community is funded through a variety of grants. Recent donations have helped the organization acquire another 127 acres — enough for 1,900 permanent homes across all phases.
There are a number of ways the public can support the mission of Community First! Village. Donations are welcome, as are volunteers. You can also shop artwork, handmade crafts and other items.
Learn more about Community First! Village here.