In our everyday talk, we use the terms ‘house’ and ‘home’ interchangeably.

In reality however, the two words have different meanings.

Alan Graham – founder of Mobile Loaves & Fishes – identifies the number one cause of homelessness as “a catastrophic loss of family.”

Not addiction.  Not mental illness.  Not poor choices.

Real as these are, they’re symptoms.

The root cause in most cases, according to research, is loss of family.



I recently had the opportunity to visit CommunityFirst! Village, a 27-acre master-planned community that offers affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for the disabled, chronically homeless in Austin.

The Village offers a variety of housing options including ‘tiny houses,’ RV’s, and teepees at different pricing levels.

The houses are nice.

But it’s the community that makes all the difference; it’s the sense of ‘home.’

Community First! Village has a chapel.

A movie theater donated by Alamo Drafthouse.

A workshop with a tool bank, a chicken operation, and bee hives producing fresh honey.

Opportunities to work.

A medical clinic.

A memorial garden and columbarium.

An art house.

Walking trails.

Bed N’ Breakfast for guests.

A community.



During my visit, a formerly homeless man named Mike invited me to tour his new home.

Now, many of us have had a lot of ‘grand tours’ of new houses purchased, or apartments rented, by family members and friends.

But this tour was different.

Mike beamed with pride, gratefulness, and joy as we sat on the porch, ate some BBQ, shared some laughs, listened to tunes, and talked about our favorite bands:  Zeppelin, GN’R, Ozzy…

He has artwork painted by friends from the streets.

Motivational quotes for each day.

Books near his bedside.

A beautiful view of Community First! Village from atop his 400-square foot spread.

…And plenty of soul to share with grateful guests.



It was an honor to be a guest in Mike’s house.  And his home.

If you’ve never been to CommunityFirst! Village, I encourage you to check it out.  Several service opportunities are available throughout the year.

I can truly say, though, from personal experience, that it’s not the work that’ll be the highlight of your visit.  It’ll be the community.  The relationships.  The home.