Linda Brown, a realtor from Springfield, Missouri, is on a quest to make sure that her hometown is “a city where no one sleeps outside.”
For almost a decade, Linda and David, her husband, have run a local shelter where people experiencing homelessness can drop in to eat, shower, do laundry, sing karaoke, and play games like bingo. But they wanted to go above and beyond this calling.
Through many organizations in their community, they raised 4.75 million dollars, which they used to change an old, unused mobile home subdivision into a small village of tiny homes to give permanent housing to disabled people experiencing homelessness. They call this safe haven “Eden Village.” There are thirty-one tiny homes on the property, which has been open since 2018.
Jonathan Fisher is one of the many people who live in Eden Village. When he met Linda Brown, he had been living on the streets for two years, battling substance abuse and just trying to survive.
“In the worst moments of my life, Linda gave me guidance, care, and made me feel like I was still worth something,” said Fisher.
He says that Linda Brown saw him as a human being. She asked him how he became homeless and learned his full story. She then helped him back onto his feet, cheering him on as he rebuilt his life, going as far as to offer him a job!
Fisher has been sober for almost three years, and works full-time on the Eden Village property for Linda Brown, helping to construct houses and maintain the 31 homes, and offering counseling and a helping hand to people who experienced the same life as he had before.
Housing First Is a national anti-homelessness movement that believes that what caused a person's experience of homelessness cannot be addressed correctly until that person’s needs for housing are met. This is Eden Village's root philosophy as well.
Linda Brown was awarded the Good Neighbor Award by the National Association of Realtors in 2020. In her acceptance speech, she said the following of her journey to creating Eden Village:
“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. I had to do something,”
Seeing this problem in her community was the seed of the idea that became Eden Village. Linda Brown's vision for the tiny home village is a place where chronically disabled human beings experiencing homelessness “can live with dignity and self-worth.”
Eden Village includes a central 4000 square foot Community Center where the newly-housed residents can cook together, do their laundry, and have access to a medical center that is full of student nurse volunteers and counselors who work with residents on their mental health.
Additional sites are already being developed on land that was donated to the nonprofit, which will be called Eden Village 2. Eden Village will house 24 people, and is set to open in the coming months. Then Linda Brown and her husband will Begin work on Eden Village 3, which could create homes for up to 80 people in various duplexes. In the next 6 years, Linda Brown plans to create 5 villages and house up to 200 people experiencing homelessness.
Let's take a minute and appreciate this real-life angel who is helping to make the world a little brighter for people experiencing the darkest parts of it. If you'd like to make a donation to help continue this good work, visit Eden Village's website.
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