Council learns more about Austin village as city considers local tiny home program

Posted at 10:33 PM, Apr 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-24 23:33:39-04

Finding ways to get homeless people off the streets of Corpus Christi is a daunting task. KRIS 6 News has previously reported on the city’s consideration of a program that would provide tiny homes for the chronically homeless. On Tuesday, the city council learned more about how that concept is working in another Texas city.

A pair of graduate students at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi recently traveled to Austin to attend a symposium in the Community First! Village. It’s an example of a project that the city’s Advisory Council on Homelessness may try to bring here. 

Robert Tepera and John Reed presented their findings about that experience to city council, along with several recommendations for successfully implementing a similar program in our city.

First, the Community First! Village in Austin is run by a faith-based organization that provides structure for the chronically homeless residents. The students say a similar non-profit partner would probably be needed in Corpus Christi.

As Reed explains to KRIS 6 News, "It really takes more than just putting a shelter over somebody’s head because that’s not really what provides change in these people’s lives."

Their other top recommendations for the city include securing land for the program and developing a strategic plan to build and manage it.

"Because once it’s built and it’s not managed properly, then it can just turn into another tent city," Tepera told city council members.

At-large council member Debbie Lindsey Opel, who’s visited the Austin village, says there may be specific roadblocks for our city because we don’t have access to the types of resources available in the Austin-San Antonio corridor.

"Here in Corpus Christi, we have some really great non-profits and some philanthropic efforts, but it’s very challenging sometimes to raise the kind of money that we would need to see this built out," Opel tells KRIS 6 News.

But Opel believes that with time, it will come. The students say it may take as long as seven years to successfully implement this type of program. Opel says that just gives the city more time to get it right.  

"I believe in Corpus Christi, we do have the capacity and the talent to be able to learn from these other communities and bring those best practices, and the ones that are going to work, here."

The graduate students and their classmates will give a more in-depth presentation on their findings on the A&M-Corpus Christi campus next month. Meantime, the council has requested another update on the tiny homes pilot program in June.