CHAMPLIN, MN – Settled is a faith-based organization that “equips faith communities to pursue homes with the homeless through sustainable housing, purposeful work, and supportive community.”
On any given night, there are nearly 600,000 people in the United States who are sleeping in cars, under bridges, in makeshift tents, and in abandoned buildings. That’s right. It is estimated that there are about 600,000 homeless people right here in the USA.
Settled has become a driving force behind the establishment of “Community First” programs. In these programs, churches and other faith-based organizations offer an opportunity for homeless people not only to have a permanent home but also to live in an environment where their relational and social needs are met holistically.
The Settled team leads FBOs through the process of building communities of tiny homes, typically on church-owned property. The idea has been taking hold in numerous places around the country. It works because the homeless are offered four walls and shelter. They are given a community in which to live and an environment in which they can thrive.
Although each community has its individual name, the organization refers to the whole as Sacred Settlements.
“Each resident has their own tiny home, and as a whole, the community shares facilities and amenities such as kitchen and dining spaces, bathrooms, laundry, gardens, workshops, and gathering areas. The land is managed by a religious or social organization to maintain standards for safety and welfare. Specially-trained missional neighbors live in the settlement and work with all the members to ensure that the settlement is healthy and thriving.”
Each Sacred Settlement is staffed with teams of missional workers and advocates who help the residents navigate the transition to settled living and the complexities of life encountered on the way to a more comfortable and productive lifestyle.
Each tiny home is built to NOAH (National Organization for Affordable Housing) standards and meets the requirements of the IRC (International Residence Code).
The Department of Housing and Urban Development cites tiny home communities as a “feasible, cost-effective option” for the homeless. HUD has reported that the communities create “communal support” that increases the likelihood that residents will gain “long-term housing, employment, and contentment.”
Settled prefers that churches build the Sacred Settlements on a property they own because doing so has the support of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.
“Settled leads the home and site design, construction management, legal research, and media strategy, develops and facilitates training, and coordinates resident care, property management, and community works micro-enterprises in partnership with churches.
“Churches, in partnership with one another, fundraise and participate in constructing the homes, maintain ownership and insurance on the home, provide or support dignified work opportunities for inhabitants, and provide a supportive network with routine shared meals and activities as they are led and able.”
Sacred Settlements are cropping up in a multitude of sizes and shapes as church groups follow the example of the Good Samaritan, recognizing their own responsibilities as neighbors of the homeless.
Churches from South Carolina to Oregon are reaching out to the homeless with Sacred Settlements.
- Opportunity Village in Eugene, Oregon, has a community of 30 homes, as does Quixote Village in Olympia, Washington.
- OM Village in Madison, Wisconsin, has five residents, while Beloved Community Village in Denver has 11 and Infinity Village in Nashville has 15.
- Community First! Village in Austin, Texas, boasts a community of 240 homes. A spokesperson said that “We have a basic philosophy that housing alone will never solve homelessness, but community will.”
Settled provides an opportunity for churches and other FBOs to transform the lives of the hopeless homeless that need help to rise above their current circumstances. Sacred Settlements are already making a difference.
Visit the Settled website to learn more about what your church or group of churches can do to reach the homeless through a Sacred Settlement.
- The Christian Post, Minnesota church to build tiny house settlement for homeless veterans
- The Christian Post, Church-supported charity to create tiny house community for low-income families
- The Christian Post, ‘God cares about everyone’: South Carolina church to build tiny house village for homeless
- Settled, Official Website
- The National Alliance to End Homelessness, State of Homelessness: 2020 Edition