Standing on an undeveloped area of Promise Pointe’s 12-acre property, Sister Rebecca Janacek doesn’t see just empty land.
Instead, she sees land that will soon act as the foundation for 12 tiny homes that will be built to provide affordable, long-term housing for people who are homeless or at risk of ending up on the street.
“It’s a God thing, planning for the future with these homes,” said Janacek, the executive director of Promise Pointe, the Victoria nonprofit that aims to provide permanent, affordable housing and a supportive community for the chronically homeless in Victoria and the Crossroads.
Construction of a new kitchen, laundry and bath facility recently begun on the property, located at 8550 U.S. 59 South in Victoria. Once the facility is complete, the nonprofit will be able to build the 12 additional tiny homes, adding to the 10 tiny homes already on the property.
Janacek hopes to have several of the 12 new homes built and ready for occupants by the end of 2021.
The decision to expand and build more homes after the first 10 was simple, Janacek said: “There’s a need for more.”
“There are a lot of homeless people out there, and there’s only so much housing,” she said. “There’s definitely a need in Victoria. With COVID, that need is even greater.”
Eight of the 10 homes currently on the property are occupied, and the nonprofit is working with applicants to fill the remaining two vacant spots.
Several area nonprofits, such as Mid-Coast Family Services, play a role in finding occupants for the homes. Keith Rucker, president of the Victoria Area Homeless Coalition and a housing coordinator at Mid-Coast, said he remembers when Promise Pointe was just a vision.
“It started with people being concerned about homelessness, and now there’s been this great effort, and it’s really coming to fruition,” he said. “This city is moving for our brothers and sisters.”
The first residents moved into the community about two years ago, and while some have already transitioned out, the homes can be forever homes, Janacek said.
Resident Jordan Hankins has been living in one of the tiny home for about four months. Though he doesn’t plan to live there long-term, he said it’s been a benefit to him while he’s needed a place to stay.
“I think it’s really good to have something like this for people,” he said. “It’s good that they did this here.”
Though the property is a little ways away from the city, residents don’t mind, Janacek said, because it gets them out of the environments they were in, which were oftentimes toxic.
“This way they get out, they get away, and we tell them ‘Hey, start over. This is new,’” she said.
Further, because many residents come from broken families or broken relationships, they get to start fresh in a new, healthy space, Janacek said.
“We get to say that we’re the new family, and that’s why we really stress community and working together,” she said.
That picture of community can be seen often, such as when residents sit on the front porches of their homes — which were intentionally placed near one another like a neighborhood — and talk to one another in the evenings, Janacek said.
“It’s heartwarming to see,” she said.
When considering solving the problem of homelessness at-large, Jim Ward, assistant director of planning with Texas Homeless Network, said tiny homes “are definitely a piece of the puzzle.”
“Everybody wants a place to be where they’re not going to be pushed off from one sidewalk to another, or ticketed for sleeping outside,” he said.
Tiny homes can be a humane step in helping to address homelessness, Ward said, explaining that they often work best when there are resources coordinated within a larger system of care that can better get to the root of the problem. All communities in Texas are struggling with affordable housing development, he said, so tiny homes do play a valuable role in providing places for people to be to get off of the street.
“It’s an important piece in the puzzle, but the need is much larger than just 10 or 20 tiny homes,” he said. “Regardless, we’re encouraged by what’s happening in Victoria.”
At Promise Pointe, Janacek said, the appreciation from residents who live in the tiny homes is clear.
“Every one of them cries when they get their home,” she said. “We cry with them.”
Alongside monetary donations and support from the community, which is always needed, Janacek said, it’s God that has made Promise Pointe, and the nonprofit’s ability to grow, a reality.
“The whole thing is, it’s God,” she said. “Whatever we need, God finds a way to give it to us.”