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Springfield, MO

Eden Village at halfway point in fundraising

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Last edited 9:41 a.m., Oct. 25, 2017

The 30-unit Eden Village housing initiative by nonprofit The Gathering Tree is nearly halfway toward its $2.4 million fundraising goal, officials say.

Gathering Tree co-founder David Brown said the project has raised $1.02 million to install the 400-square-foot homes on 4.5 acres off East Division Street for the chronically disabled homeless community. Funds are solely through donations, including those from Judy Huntsman of Coldwell Banker Vanguard and the Greater Springfield Board of Realtors, each contributing $30,000. A third tiny home was installed last month, after Central Bank of the Ozarks purchased it from Athens, Texas-based manufacturer Athens Park Homes for $30,000.

Each of the homes cost roughly $30,000 each, said Gathering Tree Board of Directors President Ron Duncan. Foundation is secured before the homes are delivered and installed, he said, and before move-in, all homes will be fully furnished, costing another $2,000.

“We’ll start placing residents when the community center is built,” Duncan said.

The $600,000 community center will enable psychology, health and counseling services to be offered, Duncan said. The center also will feature a computer lab and library, a laundry room, a food bank and a safe room in case of tornadoes. In addition, an activities coordinator will ensure social activities, personal enrichment activities and opportunities to relearn life skills are available to residents.

“If you house a homeless person, it can save the city and county up to $30,000 a year,” Duncan said. “When they’re housed, they don’t have that expense.”

Residents, many of whom are on disability, will pay their own rent based on their disability checks.

With the first move-in expected next summer, Duncan said he expects Eden Village should be full by the end of 2018.

Central Bank of the Ozarks Marketing Vice President Andrew Tasset said the company is planning volunteer opportunities for the home it purchased.

“We’re doing all the landscaping as well,” he said. “We’re going to do an employee day where we come out in the spring.”

Tasset added Central Bank soon will create an online registry, so employees can help outfit the house.

“We just wanted to design a home that would be comfortable for the person that’s going to live there,” he said.

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