Moving is a drag, just ask the residents of Denver’s Beloved Community Village, who returned to their tiny homes Friday after two weeks in exile.
The urban tiny home village is an innovation in the movement to end homelessness. Beloved Community Village is the only one in Denver. And while studies have shown it to be a success, it is still considered experimental. A combination of zoning laws and development prerogatives requires the entire village to physically relocate at irregular intervals. The villagers had to leave their homes behind for the second time in 2 years, while the buildings were transported to the new site. Now it’s time for the villagers to move back in to Beloved Community Village 3.0.
It’s a busy scene, a dozen or so people in the midst of a mass-move. Suitcases, blankets and bins pile up next to the exit and pet-owners coax anxious critters out of hiding places and into carriers for transport.
Aurora Fay Babcock, who along with her fellow villagers has been staying at a hotel for the past two weeks told KGNU’s Rae Solomon that it’s been a stressful time. “We were all just running around like chickens with our heads cut off, it was just ridiculous.”
Aurora shares her home with roommates. Liz and Roy, but they usually go by Mom and Pops. Mama Liz has mobility issues. All the moving is especially hard on her.
I’m in a wheelchair, so they got me out of the way. I helped pack what I could though, which is not a heck of a lot sometimes, because it’s hard for me to sit up for too long at a time. I’ve got bad hips and bad knees.” – Mama Liz.
The tiny home is an improvement for Mama Liz as a removable ramp has been installed at the house Aurora, Mama Liz and Papa Roy share. This is a crucial improvement over the house’s prior configuration, for Mama Liz, but the new site will take some getting used to she says.
“It’s a little smaller than what we were used to. Doesn’t bother me. I mean a little bit close for me for neighbors, but I mean, it is what it is. We got to deal with what we got. So take it in stride and deal with what we got..”
The village has been reconfigured for the new site. There are still two rows of houses, facing each other, but the central courtyard is now just a narrow aisle. The community building, once the physical center of the village, now sits at the head of the site. Even the houses are reordered, whatever made the most sense at the time for the work crew that moved them. The house numbers have been updated accordingly. Villagers returning to their homes reorient themselves to the new layout, look around for their houses.
Signs opposing the tiny home village coming to Globeville are still posted on some of the houses across the street. They’ve been there at least since March, facing the empty lot. But now the signs are directed at the residents, and it’s suddenly a lot more personal.
Cody, another resident of the village, takes offense.
“I would like to see us be able to… Howdy neighbor, just wave at the neighbor across the street without getting a scowl.”
Aurora has an idea for a strong counter argument. “We should put one up that says “how about you try asking?” What I’m trying to get at is I want them to get to know us.”
Facing fierce opposition from their new neighbors, some villagers are worried about their safety. The village is increasing its security measures, with a combination lock at the gate and plans to add security cameras around the site in the near future.
But not everyone in Globeville is so down on the new neighbors. Tony Weber is watching the activity from her front porch right across the street. She’s more welcoming of the village than some others in the neighborhood who say they have felt excluded in the decision making process. Some of the Globeville folks who opposed the tiny home village cite a century-long history of misusing Globeville on the part of the city. They are inherently distrustful. Others feel like their under-served neighborhood is already too stressed to help others in need raise themselves up. But Tony is unburdened by any of these concerns.
“Everyone needs a place to stay. Glad to see they’re moving into the neighborhood and to the community. Just you know, wanting to wave and say hi to them and I see them moving in, that’s great.”
So Cody may get his wish after all. A neighbor who smiles and waves. A neighbor who doesn’t see the great difference between her home and his own.