AUSTIN -- A community development built just for Austin's homeless community opened on Saturday.
The Community First Village is located in East Austin, near Decker Lane off Hog Eye Road and has 140 micro homes.
Each home has a unique design with its own porch and is 180 square feet. The rest of the homes in the community are RVs and canvas covered. Rent ranges from $225-360.
"It's an RV park on steroids," said Alan Graham, founder of Mobile Loaves and Fishes, a non-profit that helps the homeless.
Graham came up with the idea of a community village 12 years ago.
"Today is all about goodness. Period," Graham said.
The 27 acres isn't just about homes. The community has a medical center, an amphitheater for movie nights, a market and even its own chapel.
The homes are constructed facing each other, designed so residents get to know their neighbors.
While the homes are only available to the homeless, anyone can sign up to work in the garden, tend to the chickens or help with a little blacksmithing.
"It's all meant to attract people from around the community to come in and build relationships with the men and women that will live here because we have a saying in Mobile Loaves and Fishes. Housing will never solve homelessness but community will," Graham said.
When residents move into the Community First Village, they not only get brand new homes but their own address. Homeless advocates say the numbers in the address go a long way in restoring dignity for residents.
Residents like Ellis Johnston.
"My reaction from coming from the street to living in an RV was overwhelming and I was very happy that there was people out there that cared," Johnston said.
Johnston is one of 40 residents living in Community First Village. There should be 150 to 175 total by the end of the year. The development is expected to reach it's full capacity of 250 early next year.