Citizen Architect: Tiny Home Initiative (Agape Gardens)
Tiny Home Initiative
Homelessness in Arkansas
Homelessness is a growing problem around the globe, and includes itself as a presence in Arkansas as well. According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, their Arkansas Homelessness Statistics from January 2019 show that “an estimated 2,717 [are] experiencing homelessness on any given day… Of that Total, 132 were family households, 238 were Veterans, 336 were unaccompanied young adults (aged 18-24), and 691 were individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.”1 Unfortunately, these are only the reported cases, and it is likely that there are more that have gone unreported – especially in these trying times.
Our Journey: The Beginning
In the Spring of 2019, our team began a partnership with an organization called Divine Connections Outreach to help them capture a vision that provides a transitional housing village for those in need of shelter and a renewed sense of dignity. Divine Connections is a faith-based, certified 501c3 nonprofit organization built on the pillars of outreach, transitional housing, and care assistance. Through many hours of brainstorming and clarifying their vision, Agape Gardens – and its outstanding logo – finally came into fruition. Built upon the core values of hope, love, and faith as stated in 1 Corinthians 13:13, Agape Gardens dedicates itself to restoring dignity, hope, and empowerment to individuals and families in need of transitional shelter; fostering constructive practices to establish stability; and introducing support structures to financial, emotional, and spiritual growth.
Designing a Solution - Together
Our designers sat down with several members of the Board of Directors for Divine Connections to conduct a few design charettes with the intent to generate multiple tiny home layouts that could serve as prototypes for housing for homeless veterans, families in need, and others that need a helping hand. It was a long journey, but we came up with several designs which were so inspiring it literally brought tears to our eyes.
The effort is ongoing for the overall site design and community building. We recently executed a program document that will lead to the schematic design for the whole village which will include a commercial kitchen and cafeteria; classrooms; a chapel; a community garden; spaces for job training, financial consulting, and emotional counseling services; and a fitness trail.
We're Not Done Yet
This journey has yet to come to bear fruit that leads to a built project, but we will stand alongside Divine Connections and remain committed to the vision of Agape Gardens until we gather to celebrate a ribbon cutting.
-- The JDM Team --