First Year of Tiny Homes Village a Success for Residents/Neighbors

The Barton Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise at the University of Denver today released the results from a study of Colorado Village Collaborative’s Beloved Community Village. The comprehensive evaluation was conducted by the Burnes Center on Poverty and Homelessness at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work.

The results of the evaluation indicate that the Village is a success for both the residents themselves and for the surrounding community.

Tiny homes for the homeless are an experiment in Denver. The Beloved Community Village is the first of its kind: a village of 11 one-room houses with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities, located at 38th and Blake Streets in the RiNo neighborhood. When the Village opened in July of 2017, sceptics questioned whether the approach would keep people housed or whether the neighborhood would accept the village as part of its increasingly trendy landscape. 

 

The key findings of the report include the following:

People who were previously unserved are housed.

  • Despite the fact that most had been chronically homeless, 10 of the original 12 villagers are still housed 9 months after the launch of the Village.
  • Of these 10 initial villagers, 3 have moved into permanent housing to be replaced by new villagers.

The Village had no negative impacts on the neighborhood.

  • Research found that neighbors reported few, if any, challenges with the Village.
  • Nearly 80% of neighbors interviewed report no impact or a positive impact on traffic, safety, and noise.
  • Nearly 90% of neighbors interviewed report no impact or a positive impact on the sense of community.
  • There was no increase in crime near the Village.

People who live the in the Village are more stable.

  • Research demonstrates that the Village has contributed to a statistically significant decrease in anxiety and increase in satisfaction.
  • By the end of 9 months, all of the residents were either employed or in school, with one exception (a person on disability).
  • Despite the inevitable challenges of a shared living environment, BCV provides a support network to residents, and a valued opportunity to be part of something larger than themselves.

“Across the methods and participants, the message is consistent: The Village is welcome, villagers are succeeding and are an important part of the community,” says Daniel Brisson, Associate Professor in the DU Graduate School of Social Work and executive director of the Burnes Center.

The villagers have created an intentional, self-governed community, markedly different from previous experiences with the shelter system and life on the streets. According to one villager, “We decide what goes on here. It gives people back their confidence and puts people in leadership roles they didn’t know they could do and then excel at.”

Many RiNo neighbors find the Village to be a positive force in their community. “They’re good neighbors, keep the weeds down. I see them coming and going to work.”

The Beloved Community Village was launched by Colorado Village Collaborative – a partnership between the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado and Denver Homeless Out Loud. Leaders in these groups studied similar villages in Portland and Seattle, and invested years in building support through the city of Denver to test the approach here. The Village will be followed this year with a second intentional community at a location to be determined, in partnership with the congregation of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. A proposed site on church property recently did not receive approval from the Landmark Preservation Commission and the Colorado Village Collaborative and the St. Andrews’ congregation are working on an alternative location.

The Barton Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise at DU has invested in both villages and will continue working with village leaders to test and expand this approach to housing for people not served by the traditional shelter system.

“We believe that tiny home villages are a cost-effective way to get people housed quickly and to support them as they create self-governed communities,” says David Miller, Executive Director of the Barton Institute. “This is especially critical in Metro Denver as we face unprecedented increases in housing costs. We hope to see dozens of such villages established in years to come.”

For more information and to view the results of the evaluation, visit www.bartoninstitute.org/tiny-homes. Interviews can be made available with researchers, villagers, and neighborhood residents and business owners.