Ahead of new homeless housing project, these Austin nonprofits came together on the court
Foundation Communities and Mobile Loaves and Fishes often work together over the phone. The two nonprofits share a lot of similarities in their work to solve issues around housing and homelessness in Austin, but it's not often that their staff meet and collaborate.
At least until now.
The organizations are working on a new project in South Austin that will serve people who have experienced homelessness. But before the construction began the two groups wanted to come together outside of work.
Earlier this month, the two nonprofits challenged each other to friendly games of volleyball and basketball. Walter Moreau, executive director for Foundation Communities, said while some teams kept score, this was about building connections and relationships and taking a step away from the hard work they do.
“A big piece of our work is helping people who have been homeless have a stable place to live and get back on their feet and have wrap-around services,” Moreau said. “But that work can be challenging, rewarding and hard [on staff], and it's important to take a little time to have fun and celebrate.”
Alan Graham, who leads Mobile Loaves and Fishes, agreed. He said he also hoped the event would set the tone for future collaborations, not just between Mobile Loaves and Fishes and Foundation Communities but between other organizations in Austin.
“There are so many nonprofits in Austin that are unbelievably awesome, and when we come together in partnership, I believe that we can do big things,” Graham said.
Cacki Young, director of supportive housing management for Foundation Communities, applauded the opportunity to come together.
“This is really neat,” Young said. “Because at the end of the day, there is no one organization that will be able to solve the issue of homelessness or the broader issue of affordable housing alone … We really need to be able to come together and support each other, because we need all the players of the game to even just make a dent in the problem.”
Mobile Loaves and Fishes' Burleson expansion of the Community First Village will include 640 tiny homes and RVs for people who have experienced homelessness. Foundation Communities will add 100 apartments to the community with access to support services like a health care center and a grocery store.
“The weak link in our system has to do with the services,” Graham said. “It's one thing to house people, but how do you manage that housed group of extremely vulnerable people … These issues are extremely complex and cost an extraordinary amount of money and need an extraordinary amount of community support. So this partnership will begin to communicate the dire need of the services we need to offer and provide.”
Construction started earlier this year. The village is set to open in 2025.