A casual dinner conversation blossomed into giving a forgotten community a home to call their own.
Eden Village, a master-planned tiny home community in Springfield for the disabled, chronically homeless, was awarded $750,000 from the Federal Home Loan Bank Des Moines Competitive Affordable Housing Grant. The grant, sponsored and distributed by Central Bank of the Ozarks, is believed to be the largest FHLB Affordable Housing Grant ever received in the Springfield area.
Eden Village is a project of the Gathering Tree, a local nonprofit corporation that serves the Springfield homeless population. Both were founded by Springfield residents Dr. David and Linda Brown.
Russ Marquart, president and CEO of Central Bank of the Ozarks, is a former patient of Dr. Brown. At a dinner party, Brown shared his idea of a community for the homeless with Marquart, but he didn’t have a plan to finance it. Marquart told Brown to call him. Soon, the bank provided the financing to purchase the land, and the bank began researching possible funding options for the village.
A potential opportunity for financing Eden Village was the FHLB’s Competitive Affordable Housing Program. The program encourages partnerships between FHLB members and local housing providers to secure funds for purchasing, constructing or rehabilitating housing for low-income families, seniors, persons with disabilities, homeless and at-risk youth.
“Historically, projects like Eden Village score well on these types of grants,” Marquart said. “A $750,000 grant would take care of 25 homes in Eden Village.”
Eden Village sits on 4.5 acres of a former mobile home park in Springfield. The gated community, the first of its kind in Springfield, is designed for 30 homes and a community center. Currently, there are three tiny homes that were donated by area Springfield businesses, including Central Bank of the Ozarks. The 400-square-foot homes feature one bedroom, one bathroom and kitchen. Each home costs $30,000.
With the FHLB grant, Springfield businesses and community members have raised $2.1 million of the $2.4 million needed to complete this project.
Construction is currently underway on Eden Village’s community center, which will have laundry facilities and a large kitchen with space for entertaining guests. The center also will offer counseling services, health services, social activities and life-skills training.
Marquart is quick to point out that community issues like homelessness cannot be solved by one business. The bank and several local banks have formed coaltions with businesses and residents to support various community projects, such as Harmony House, in Springfield.
“Banks compete fiercely with one another but a project like this brings cooperation,” Marquart said. “There’s lots of needs in our communities, and the more we work together, the more we can solve community problems.”