At the end of June, I had the opportunity to visit Little Rock in Arkansas, USA, and see the very first 13 Houses project: A small house, in the middle of a leafy neighborhood, destined to become a home for people without one.
Whilst walking up the driveway with Chuck Levesque, Director of Depaul USA, I couldn’t help but imagine what this little house might look like in a couple of months’ time. How it would be transformed not only into a roof over someone’s head; but also into a place of safety, warmth and joy; into a home.
During my visit I learnt that the grave lack of affordable housing is a major problem in Little Rock. The cost of living is far too high for many and even those in work are not guaranteed to earn enough to afford to rent a small place. Hence, despite trying their very hardest to avoid the streets – many people live at a constant risk of becoming homelessness.
Depaul USA’s day center Jericho Way offers help for those that find themselves in vulnerable situations and provides a wide range of resources and support options. However, up until now, there weren’t many alternatives to the temporary city shelters for those who had lost their place – they could help them in so many fantastic ways, but so often, they couldn’t give them a home.
Until now. With this very first 13 Houses project, Depaul USA is starting to develop a new way forward – responding to the specific reality of their community by offering a practical, long-term solution to homelessness amongst vulnerable people and families on low incomes.
And when talking to Chuck, it became clear that this is only the starting point for his vision of the 13 Houses – and that there is more to come in the future.
“I am delighted that Depaul USA has begun work on the first of the 13 Houses in the US,” Chuck says. “The house we recently purchased and are renovating at the moment will provide safe, clean and affordable housing to a person or family in need. It is an honor to follow in the historical footsteps of St. Vincent de Paul in providing this shelter. Depaul USA looks forward to collaborating with the Vincentian Family to deliver more houses across the US.”
The FHA is equally delighted and we cannot wait to see how this little house will flourish into a home. We will make sure to keep you updated!
FHA Team Member