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  • Writer's pictureUnsheltered

What the Village will, and will not be

The dream for our tiny-home village was born out of a desire to be able to provide substantial assistance to the people who are ready for a much better life. It was also born out of the fact that it is a very long and difficult journey to regain your footing after life has hit you so hard that you have lost safe and affordable housing.

We work with people on a regular basis here in our community who are severely hindered in making forward progress because of the lack of affordable housing. For instance, one landlord told us just the other day that there were one hundred and fifty applications submitted for the apartment that one of our clients was applying for. That is one hundred and fifty people trying to rent that same apartment. It's mind blowing to me.

Through the ministry of the village, we will walk our program participants through discipleship to bring them closer to Christ, have educational opportunities for them to further their education, and we will also use strict guidelines and work ethic to grow their personal responsibility while with us. During their time in our individual-based program, a case worker will manage the social end of things with the goal being to help people become faithful Christians who are contributing to our wonderful community.

The individual program aspect has many benefits. For one, it promotes personal responsibility. For another, it affords the proper time needed for transition into their own housing, a process that doesn't happen quickly, no matter how hard we want it to.

With all that being said, the village is not intended to be a homeless shelter. It will not have an emergency shelter function where people can check in at night and check out the next morning. We already have processes in place to help people in need of emergency shelter. The village is a step above that process and is intended for the people who have shown the capability, and desire to make a significant change in their life.

The village is also not intended to be a drug or alcohol rehab facility. We thank God for the facilities that have that as their primary focus, but that's not what God has laid upon our hearts for the village. We are not looking for perfect people, those don't exist. But we are looking for people who have already received the appropriate help as far as rehab goes, or people who have not had substance abuse in their lives at all.

Data that we have collected over the past four years tell us that over 36% of the people who come to us for help do not have current substance abuse issues. Our data also tells us that 68% of the people we have ministered to in the past four years are local, long-time residents of Cullman County. Much of the remaining 32% are closely tied to residents of Cullman. Simply put our local ministry is mainly helping people who are already here.

Speaking of already here, the focus of the village ministry will be to residents of Cullman. We are not looking to bring in people from outside our town into the village. We reserve the right to do that if God leads, but that is not the focus or the intention. In another article I may dissect that a little deeper and talk about why we decided to locate in the county and not the city, but that's for another article.

One last note. The village will also not be a flop-house for people who want a free ride. We know that God never blesses idleness or slothfulness. It takes hard work to succeed and the people in our program must commit to working hard and following the plan developed by their case manager in order to keep their spot. The good news is that hard work still pays off and God is still in the business of saving souls and putting lives back together.

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