Linda, along with her husband, raised more than $4.75 million and built 31 homes, with each costing $42,000.
A realtor is converting abandoned homes into a village of tiny homes to provide permanent housing to the chronically homeless. Linda Brown and her husband David, who hails from Missouri, want homeless people to have a fair shot at life. Linda said she wanted to create a place where chronically homeless “can live with dignity and self-worth.” They started Eden Village in 2018, a project to offer housing to homeless people through abandoned mobile homes, reported Good News Network. They have erected more than 31 homes in the village so far and their dream is to make her hometown “a city where no one sleeps outside.”
It all started when Linda Brown and her husband David ran Gardening Tree, an evening drop-in shelter, for homeless people in Springfield. It gave them the opportunity to eat, shower, do their laundry, use a computer, and socialize during bingo games and karaoke. While they were happy to help the homeless people, they wanted to do more. That's when she decided to convert abandoned mobile homes to permanent homes for those who were chronically homeless. She stumbled upon an abandoned 4.2-acre mobile park on Springfield’s east side. The property wouldn’t need to be rezoned for tiny-home trailers. The infrastructure and utilities were already in place which made it that much more convenient.
The tiny homes can be rolled in and attached to their steel frames, qualifying them as recreational vehicles. The couple raised more than $4.75 million from Coldwell Banker, the Greater Springfield Board of Realtors, local banks, churches, and residents, to kickstart the dream in 2018. They built 31 homes; each home cost $42,000 and is 400-square-feet. They are also fully furnished, with dishes and bedding included. Residents pay $300 per month including utilities. Many of them also receive disability checks of $725 per month to cover expenses. “In 2016 we had a vision. In 2018, it’s a reality,” said Linda Brown, reported AP. “And it’s God’s reality. It’s not ours. We give Him the glory because there is no way we could have done this on our own. I also applaud all the many, many volunteers that have worked hard and helped us to make this dream come true today. We are excited to house 30 of our wonderful homeless friends, to get them off the streets so they won’t have another winter out in the cold."
For Linda, fighting homelessness is personal. “I watched as my (homeless) friends walked off into the darkness to a hidden, wet, cold camp while we went home to a warm bed,” said Linda. “I had to do something.” Nate Schleuter, the chief visionary officer for Eden Village, heaped praise on Linda. “It takes someone who wants to do something, and then believes they can. I’ve watched Linda Brown live that out,” said Nate Schleuter. “It’s exciting to watch the homeless who thought they’d live the rest of their life on the street now have a home.” At the heart of Linda Brown's work is her belief that the problems of homeless people cannot be properly addressed until they have a roof over their heads.
Jonathan Fisher, who was battling substance abuse and had lived on the streets, has benefitted from moving to the village. “In the worst moments of my life, Linda gave me guidance, care, and made me feel like I was still worth something,” said Fisher. She had helped him rebuild his confidence and his life. He now works full-time for Linda Brown, doing construction and maintenance on the 31 homes. Linda wants to do more. She has plans to build duplexes that could house 80 people and wants to establish five similar villages in Springfield, that can house roughly 200 homeless people. "She is the most decent human being I've met in my entire life," said Fisher.