Do Good: Eden Village

A local nonprofit is turning the problem of homelessness into opportunities for others by building a community of tiny homes for Springfield’s chronically disabled homeless population.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.

The homes at Eden Village will have all the amenities when finished, like a fully functional, modern kitchen.

By this time next year, a gated community of tiny homes will rise from the Springfield landscape. And some of the city’s homeless residents will be the ones living in them. The housing project, called Eden Village, is slated to span a 4.5-acre tract off East Division Street and consist of 30 micro residences for Springfield’s chronically disabled homeless population.

David Brown is executive director of The Gathering Tree, the faith-based nonprofit taking the lead in funding this venture, the first of its kind in the Ozarks. The Gathering Tree provides a safe place for those without shelter to get off the streets for a few hours each evening. David and his wife, Linda, envisioned Eden Village after becoming weekly volunteers with the ministry seven years ago.

“What we agonized over was after we’re with our friends on an evening, we get in our cars and go home,” David says. “They put their backpacks on and trudge off into the woods. And we thought surely something can be done about this.”

Through the couple’s involvement with The Gathering Tree, the Browns formed relationships with many people who others often ignore because of false perceptions about homeless people. All their conversations led to an important discovery.

“Our whole focus is to get to know their stories and see how we can impact them.”—David Brown, executive director of The Gathering Tree

“The No. 1, I think, definition of homelessness is profound, catastrophic loss of family and friends or community,” David says. “They’re alone, have no resources to fall back on, nobody to talk to them. Our whole focus is to get to know their stories and see how we can impact them.” The Gathering Tree believes that to eliminate the factors that contribute to homelessness, certain human needs, like shelter and companionship, must be met first.

Meanwhile, Linda, a real-estate agent, had the idea to use tiny homes and had already started looking for land when she and David learned about a similar housing project out of Dallas. An abandoned trailer park would be perfect for connecting each 398-square-foot unit to utilities, so when one hit the market, they snatched it up and started sketching plans. 

Plans for The Gathering Tree’s new community came together after David and Linda Brown bought an old trailer park.

They commissioned Champion in Athens, Texas, to manufacture 30 single-adult occupancy homes at an approximate value of $30,000 each. Coldwell Banker donated enough to purchase the first home, already on site at 2801 E. Division St. “Our hope would be that we would have enough financing to have a few units, maybe 10, on site by third quarter of this year,” David says.

The plans for Eden Village also include shared spaces designated for laundry, internet access, socializing and sober living activities. An on-site food bank and medical offices will connect Eden Village residents with support services, eliminating the need for residents to travel. In the future, there might also be a workshop in which residents can tinker and a garden to cultivate produce to sell at the farmers market.

To qualify for residency, candidates must have a history of homelessness in Springfield for at least one year, a diagnosed severe and persistent physical or mental illness and a prior record with the criminal justice system—all conditions that dictate high use of Greene County resources and often result in the candidates being unable to obtain housing elsewhere. Residents pay a small monthly rent based on earnings. Much like the biblical Eden, residents may stay in Eden Village forever, as long as they abide by the neighborhood guidelines set forth by the management company. 

“They will have some say in self-governance, but we’ll oversee it,” David says. “If you have ownership in something, it boosts self-esteem and pride.”

In the coming years when Eden Village is fully established, a new standard for addressing homelessness in Springfield will be, too, one that offers a permanent spot for those in need to rest their heads. 


Edit ModuleShow Tags

More Articles Like This

50 Things Every 417-Lander Must Do

When do you know you’ve become fully initiated into your home? You can start by trying all the foods that are unique to the area. You can check the best sites off your bucket list. You can immerse yourself in the outdoors. And, let’s be honest, that can take years! This feature is your shortcut—a list of 50 things that every 417-lander should know, do or eat to be really and truly local.

Beneath the Surface: Controversy on the Buffalo National River

Since C&H Hog Farms opened its 2,500-sow operation in the Buffalo National River watershed in 2013, concerns involving the river’s safety and quality have been on the rise. We headed south to investigate the farm’s practices, learn about the potential threats to the watershed and examine the heart-felt passion of the many people involved.

Plan a Trip to the Emerald Isle or Hear Irish Tunes Locally

417 Magazine owner Joan Whitaker's maiden name is Sullivan so it’s only fitting that visiting Ireland was high on her bucket list. Here are her tips for planning a trip to the Emerald Isle and for enjoying Irish music locally if a trip isn’t for you.
Edit Module
Edit Module
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Sign up for our newsletters Follow us on Instagram

Edit ModuleShow Tags

  1. Why Pickleball is the New “It” Sport
    The number of places to play pickleball has doubled since 2010. Digital Director Dayle Duggins...
  2. Fall Festivals: 25 Way to Celebrate Fall Fun in 417-land
    We’ve rounded up the most delightful, most bizarre and most timeless fests around to add to...
  3. Republic’s Scuffed Edge Flea Market
    At Scuffed Edge in Republic, one creative maven shares her passion for refurbishing home decor.
  4. Goat Yoga is Your New Favorite Workout
    Our managing editor got bendy with some goats, and somehow among their bleats and bucks, her...
  5. 50 Things Every 417-Lander Must Do
    When do you know you’ve become fully initiated into your home? You can start by trying all the...
Edit Module
Edit Module