Resurrection Village Handbook

Resurrection Village Handbook

A Self-Governed Tiny Home Village

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Based on what we’ve heard the community say they want and need, we are building:

  • A Self Governed Community by and for Residents
  • Common Areas: Bathroom, Kitchen, Meeting Space, Workspace, Tool Shed, Front Desk, Open Space
  • A Community Garden
  • Rest Area For Visitors

 

Why?

We are in a housing crisis. People have to exist somewhere, and because there are no suitable options to access affordable housing if you work a low-wage job, are unable to work, or can’t find work we have to create options for ourselves and defend our right to exist in public space. Tiny Homes are an inexpensive, ecologically conscious, tangible and dignified alternative to living outside, or trying to hustle a spot in the overcrowded shelter system.

 

Why Sustainability Park (S*Park)?

Sustainability Park and ‘The Big Wonderful’, properties owned by the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) in Downtown Denver, used to be home to hundreds of public housing residents. After years of budget cut-backs, the housing projects were in need of maintenance and repair. Instead of investing in maintaining the projects, DHA evicted it’s residents and the place was levelled through a Federal HOPE VI program. (Hope VI was started to revitalize ‘severely distressed’ public housing into mixed income developments; Hope VI has resulted in the forced displacement of tens of thousands of families and the loss of large amounts of guaranteed low-income housing nationwide. )

More recently, the park was turned into a ‘conceptual’ park named ‘Sustainability Park’, within which experiments in sustainable building practices and in urban farming could be developed.

The Denver Urban Farmers Collaborative and others have been utilizing the park to grow food and educate others since 2012.

Now, as part of a larger plan to sell off a large quantity of public lands to private developers, DHA has drawn up an agreement with private companies, Treehouse Development and Westfield Co., to develop the land into for-sale non-affordable housing.  Both DHA and Treehouse argue that the future development will be made up of eco-friendly micro housing units, with vague promises of  retaining aspects of growing food.  DHA claims that this contract will create revenue for future affordable housing developments,  while also claiming simultaneously that  they have already met their obligations to build affordable housing in Denver.  Additionally, DHA  is taking no steps to make currently-underutilized land available for low-income housing (or Tiny Home) development.  

No amount of ‘greenwashing’ and empty promises can hide the plain truth – Public Assets should not be used to  incentivize upscale market-rate housing.  Urban Farmers and low-Income people should not be displaced for the sake of economic development right in the midst of Denver’s worst housing crisis ever.

So, with a lack of other options, we are taking public land back for the public.

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How Did We Get Here?

For over three decades, we have underfunded our federal affordable housing (HUD) and social safety net programs, relying on housing policies that favor free-market development and small amounts of Homeless Assistance Grants to cover the need. As a result, mass homelessness has become a national epidemic, and instead of fixing the problem at it’s root, local municipalities are turning to mean spirited criminalization measures to handle ‘the homeless problem’, evoking memories of Segregated Water Fountains, Anti-Okie Laws, Ugly Laws, Sundown Towns and resurrecting the Vagrancy Laws that courts have struck down in the past.

At present time, Denver’s local ordinances criminalize such survival activities as sitting, sleeping, lying down and resting in public spaces, despite the condemnation of such practices by civil rights groups, international and federal governments. Simultaneously, Denver’s rental market is rising faster than any other city, while wages remain stagnant.

In short, we need more housing options, and Tiny Homes are one solution that we – as a community – can create for ourselves.

 

Why ‘Resurrection Village’?

There has never been any significant movement in American History, where substantial legislative change occurred that did not require the people affected directly to become organized and demand better treatment for themselves.

The New Deal Housing and Jobs Programs were a direct result of powerful social movements, like the Hooverville protests and the work of the ‘Bonus Army’ – a group of thousands of veterans and their families who built a Tent City on the National Mall in Washington D.C. and demanded access to governmental relief programs and decent housing.

36 years later, Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign sought to carry on the legacy of the Bonus Army, by building a tent city on the Washington Mall, called ‘Resurrection City’, to demand better wages and access to decent housing. After King’s assassination, momentum waned for the Poor People’s Campaign, but still, in 1968 over 3 thousand people occupied the National  Mall until they were forced to leave 6 weeks later.

Our naming this village ‘Resurrection Village’ is meant to honor the many who have brought us this far, and to remind ourselves that this struggle will only be won if people experiencing poverty demand justice for themselves.

 

“We ought to come in mule carts, in old trucks, any kind of transportation people can get their hands on. People ought to come to Washington, sit down if necessary in the middle of the street and say, ‘We are here; we are poor; we don’t have any money; you have made us this way…and we’ve come to stay until you do something about it.’” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

The Economics

Type of Program Cost to House a Person for one Night
Tiny Home Village Housing (Dignity Village Portland, OR) $4.28
Warming Center $12.59
Emergency Shelter $20.92
Rental Assistance $24.60
Permanent Supportive Housing $32.37
Motel Voucher $54.00
Transitional Housing $66.56
Prison or Jail Time in Colorado $83.22

Sources: Tent City Toolkit, Portland Housing Bureau, Vera.org

Community Name/Organization Cost to Build A Tiny Home
Quixote Village – Olympia, WA $87,500
Community First – Austin, TX $30,000
Second Wind Cottages – Newfield, NY $12,000
OM Village – Madison, WI $5,000
Opportunity Village Eugene – Eugene, OR $2,500
Community Supported Shelters-Eugene,OR $1,000
Resurrection Village $1,000 – $2,500

 

Basic Guiding Principles

Community: The most resounding opinion expressed by people without housing through our community outreach was that people desire to be a part of community. To this end we hope to build a community integrated into the midst of the City, with open pathways into the village and homes built by community members and volunteer labor. Resurrection Village residents will be encouraged to participate in civic activities outside of the village, such as joining a Registered Neighborhood Association or community garden.

 

Democracy: The best way to make sure a project is successful is the people who have to live with the decisions having ownership, responsibility and decision making power. Communities that are characterized by a direct-democracy form of governance are best able to empower individuals to take responsibility for the community’s well-being, and make sure that the community is held accountable. To this end, Resurrection Village will be a self-governed community, where each member has the responsibility to participate in a “Village Council” composed of village residents within the greater community. All decisions concerning the village will be made by some form of consensus-seeking, participatory decision making process- meaning that all residents will have to work toward a full agreement when making decisions.

 

Choices: Resurrection Village will always remain a voluntary place for people. All prospective members will have to be accepted into the community by the Village Council after a seven day trial period where they must follow the community agreements, and no person will be forced to stay within the village if they choose to leave. Furthermore, all assistance given to individuals will be consensual and voluntary.

 

Something to Contribute to: Everyone has something to contribute, whether that be physical labor, monetary contributions or creative and emotional support. Residents will be expected to work a minimum number of hours towards maintaining the village each week, according to their abilities.  Furthermore, as Resurrection Village will be a village open to the community, villagers themselves will take on the management of events, community spaces, a public restroom and community garden. Villagers will also be encouraged to participate in activities within the greater community of Denver.

 

A Garden: Villagers may partner with some of the local gardeners in the area to apprentice in gardening and maintain a community garden and grow their own food. Perhaps the village will host a farmer’s market.

 

Dignity: Resurrection village will be a community characterized by upheld rights and mutual respect. All people are honored, and oppressive behavior and language will not be permitted. Everyone deserves a safe place to call home.

 


Who Is This Village For?

People who would otherwise be without housing. People who are willing to contribute to community. People who want a be a part of something bigger than themselves.

 

While there are countless people living without access to safe decent housing of their own in Denver, we acknowledge a number of underserved populations (not an exhaustive list) have even less safe options than others, and we are mindful of including these folks in our plans:

-Couples without Children (married or unmarried)

-People With Pets

-People who are LGBTQ

-Women

-People with Mental and Physical Impairments/Disabilities and Traumatic Brain Injuries

Basic Governance

There are two governance:

  • The Village Council – composed of current residents of Resurrection Village
  • The Advisory Council – composed of long-term stakeholders, community members and villagers.

Both Village Council and Advisory Council make decisions based on a ‘Consensus Minus One’ Model (Modified Consensus) which means all those voting except one, must consent to the decision. Participants can block, oppose, stand aside, or agree with a proposal.

 

Once the village grows to a larger number of residents the council will consider moving to a high % based decision making rule (such as 80%) which is still a consensus-seeking, participatory decision making process.

Village Council Responsibilities Include:

  • Day to day operation of the village
  • Short Term immediate decision making
  • Affirming, and Welcoming new villagers
  • Security, Maintaining Peace Throughout the Village
  • Managing Visitors and Press
  • Assigning Roles for the day to day work of the village, projects and construction
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Street Outreach
  • How the village looks
  • Design and layout of the village
  • Vision of the village

Advisory Council Responsibilities include:

  • Long-Term Visioning
  • Legal Support
  • Supply Support (tents, etc)
  • Fundraising and Accounting
  • Infrastructure (maintain documents such as skills inventory sheet, in case of arrest forms, etc, and other necessary tasks)
  • Media and Press Releases
  • Conflict Resolution when Village Council is unable to reach resolution
  • Street Outreach

If any decision is meant to be permanent, there must be the consent of both the Village Council and the Advisory Council.

 

Village Agreements

The Following are basic tenets which all prospective villagers agree to hold to while staying within the village:

1) No Violence to Self or Others

2) No Theft (of Organization or Individual Property)

3) No Illegal Drugs or Paraphernalia On Site – Legal substances (alcohol, weed in private homes only)

4)No Persistent Disruptive Behavior of any kind that disturbs the general peace and welfare of the village.

5) No Discriminatory or Oppressive Behavior or Language (Sexist Statements, Homophobia, Spiritual Belief, Racist, Etc. )

6) Everyone Must Contribute to the Operation and Maintenance of the Village and is encouraged to participate in village decision making.

7) No Weapons (Guns, Illegal sized Knives, Clubs, etc. etc.)

 

Becoming a Village Resident

Initial “base group” – The initial “base group” of village residents is made of people who plan to live in the village and who have participated in planning the village.

 

Base group members must be…

Down for the risks

-Down for the cause

-Responsible/Respectful

-Willing to meet regularly and work on village operation and future planning

-In need of a home

 

Anyone who wants to live in the village, comes to meetings before the village start, and fits these standards is considered a “base group” member.

 

Once in village who is invited in/not allow in?

 

All are invited into the village. So long as one is following the village agreements they can stay in the village.

 

How does one become an official village resident and voting member of the village council?

 

Anyone who stays at the village 7 days and follows the village agreements can be a voting member of the village council. They must come to village council meetings in order to vote. All village residents are encouraged to participate in village decisions.

 

Skills Inventory Sheet for Resurrection Village

(Check all that apply):

Skill I’m willing to learn this skill (don’t know much about it now) I’m Good At It I’m Real Good (An Expert willing to teach others)
Accounting
Automotive Mechanics
Cabinet Making
Compiling Newsletters
Conflict Resolution
Composting
Driving
Drywall
Electric
Facilitating Meetings
Framing (Carpentry)
Finish Carpentry
Gardening
General maintenance/ Handyperson work
Grant Writing/Fundraising
Graphic Design
Landscaping
Machining
Maintaining Websites
Masonry/Stone Work
Natural Building
Note Taking/Secretarial Work
Organizing Papers
Organizing People
Other Alternative Energy (Wind, etc.)
Permaculture Theory
Plumbing
Public Speaking
Rough carpentry
Solar
Welcoming People
Welding
Writing/Editing (Press Releases, etc.)

 

Tinyhome Dark 2

Our Demands

  1. Legalize Tiny Homes in Denver – A cheap, sustainable, and attractive solution for many.
  2. Set Aside Publicly Owned Land for Tiny Home Villages and people experiencing homelessness -Public Assets Should Be Used For The Public Good – we don’t need our public land sold to private developers to build condos when we are in an affordable housing crisis. We need a Tiny Home Village run by and for people experiencing homelessness.

 

Furthermore we demand…

  1. End the Criminalization of Homelessness – Repeal all laws which infringe on people’s rights to move freely, rest, sleep and protect oneself from the elements, sleep in your legally parked vehicle, and eat in public spaces.
  2. Stop Displacing Urban Farmers – keep the few urban farms we have in Denver Functioning (stop selling public land to private developers).
  3. Adequately Fund Affordable Housing Development – We need real funding for our current crisis. Not just small ‘rotating funds’ for workforce housing. We need to fully refund our affordable housing budget on a federal, state and local level.

 

Denver Homeless Out Loud Tiny Home Working Group  

Because everyone deserves a safe place to call home! denverhomelessoutloud.org – info@denverhomelessoutloud.org – 720-940-5291

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