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An Inspiring Lifespace for People Who Are Homeless

Over the past several years, I traveled around the country and read widely to learn about the creative ways that people are living now. Those nuclear family households that we once considered “traditional” now comprise fewer than 20 percent of all households in the U.S. The vast majority of us need to find new ways to live.

One concern I had at the outset is that innovative ways of living would be available only to people with lots of money and resources. Happily, that turned out to be far from true. Although a few of the people I interviewed for How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century were well off, the vast majority were not. That did not stop them from finding or creating the lifespaces that worked best for them. Whatever their circumstances, they found their place, their space, and their people.

In my research, I felt proud to have discovered creative lifespaces among the homeless. I didn’t visit the one I’ll describe here – I just read about it. You won’t find this discussion in How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century. It is one of the many passages cut from the book because I wrote way too much in my first draft.

Community First Village: An Inspiring Lifespace for the Homeless

In the spring of 2014, Texans were busily building their beautiful, colorful, and sunny Community First Village in East Austin. Tiny houses, RVs, and mobile homes will all be part of the 27-acre tree-lined landscape. So will a giant chessboard, plus “a permaculture food forest and gardens, chickens, goats, and rabbits, a woodworking and RV repair workshop, a bed and breakfast, outdoor cooking areas, a pond full of catfish, and an outdoor movie screen for community gatherings.” Already, volunteer workers have organized Saturday morning breakfasts and sometimes bands come by to play. The village is designed to be a model of “living sustainably, and close to nature and animals, and spending time with those you love.” Other groups such as Occupy Madison, the local Wisconsin version of New York’s Occupy Wall Street, are working on similar communities.

Not just anyone can live in the Community First Village. It is going to be a place for the homeless (and maybe some staff), where they can settle in, get work, and pay the rent – which for some of the dwellings will be as low as $90. A social justice ministry, Mobile Loaves and Fishes, will help future residents find jobs both within the community and beyond. Already a crew of homeless people are building and painting. Once the community is up and running, others will tend to the animals and perhaps harvest fruit from the trees which can then be made into jams that can be sold at the local farmers markets.

The new community is not a way of sectioning off the formerly homeless. Amenities such as the outdoor movie screen are designed to welcome people from outside the Community First Village. In addition, a nearby bus stop provides easy access to downtown Austin.

[Notes: If you are interested, you can learn more about How We Live Now at this page of my website, where I post updates. I also have a Facebook page for the book. I’m on Twitter now, too.]

House concept image available from Shutterstock

An Inspiring Lifespace for People Who Are Homeless

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard; Academic Affiliate, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UC Santa Barbara), an expert on single life, is the author of several books, including "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" and "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century." Her TEDx talk is "What no one ever told you about people who are single," Dr. DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and magazines such as Time, Atlantic, the Week, More, the Nation, Business Week, AARP Magazine, and Newsweek. Dr. DePaulo is in her sixties. She has always been single and always will be. She is "single at heart" -- single is how she lives her best and most meaningful life. Visit her website at

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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2015). An Inspiring Lifespace for People Who Are Homeless. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 Aug 2015
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