Guest post by Jennifer Hope Wilson
This past spring, the Burnes Center on Poverty and Homelessness, at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work, completed a comprehensive evaluation of Colorado Village Collaborative’s Beloved Community Village (BCV). An experiment in Denver, BCV is the city’s first tiny home community addressing homelessness.
photo by Levi Tijerina
Findings from the evaluation demonstrate that the first nine months of the Village were a success given that BCV was widely considered to be an operational, fully-functioning, and productive community. Importantly, BCV’s “success” is to be understood within the context of an intentional community model, in which the Village does not arrive at a fixed destination but rather continues to evolve, change, and grow over the course of a developmental process.
Study results show that Village residents improved in the areas of education and employment, health and well-being, leadership and governance, and goal setting. One BCV villager noted, “We decide what goes on here. It gives people back their confidence and puts people in leadership roles they didn’t know they could do and then excel at.”
Additionally, interviews with a random sample of residential neighbors demonstrated that, on average, BCV had either no impact or a positive impact on the neighborhood. These results directly challenge the NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) sentiment that often precedes the development of housing for people experiencing homelessness in a given neighborhood. A neighborhood resident observed, “They’re good neighbors, keep the weeds down. I see them coming and going to work.”
This month, the Barton Institute for Philanthropy and Social Enterprise released findings from the study, which can be accessed here. For more information, please contact the Barton Institute directly.
Jennifer Hope Wilson, MSW, IMBA, is a PhD student at the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work and a Graduate Research Assistant at the Burnes Center on Poverty and Homelessness.