HRDC awarded $500,000 contract to develop Housing First Village

Mortgage association Fannie Mae announced Wednesday that the Human Resource Development Council was one of five contract winners in its national challenge for projects that intersect housing with health.

The $500,000 award will go toward shaping HRDC’s plans for a village of houses with roughly 200 square feet of living space. The nonprofit hopes to serve people who have lived without a home for years, often due to mental health issues.

"A Place To Live" written by 12 year old Dylan

A Place To Live

By: Dylan, Age 12


Curiosity. The little boy was full of it. He was always asking questions. Why is that? Who said so? Where did this come from? Not only did he ask these questions, he would dig deeper. If he asked about something and didn’t get an answer that satisfied him, he would try to find the complete answer. For instance, there was a time when the boy saw a group of tiny houses when walking with his mom. He asked her where the houses came from and who lived in them. The mom shunned the question just saying that people lived in the houses and it didn’t matter.

Shortly after asking his mom about the tiny houses, the little boy decided he was going to find out. He decided to explore the neighborhood where they were at. He quietly walked through the neighborhood looking for anything that could help him find the answers to his questions. Eventually, he found a little park in the neighborhood and a old sign that said, Established for the homeless. The boy was still confused and decided to ask someone sitting on a bench about it.

Nick was a nice old man, when the little boy asked him about the neighborhood, Nick agreed to explain. “A long time ago,” began Nick “I was living on the streets.”

“What do you mean?” Asked the little boy.

“I guess I better explain,” continued Nick “my brother was very sick and he needed a surgery. I had to pay for it, and after I had I was out of money. I didn’t have enough money to pay rent on my house, so I ended up living without a home.”

“I’m sorry” said the boy.

“No worry” said Nick. “Well, I was living without a home and I didn’t know how I was going to get by. I tried to find a home.”

“Excuse me,” interrupted the boy “what does this got to do with the neighborhood?”

“I’m getting there” proclaimed Nick. “As I said, I was looking for a house. Anything for me to live in. I knew that I would have to start by making some money. I had taken time out of work to help my brother. In the process I had lost my job do to absence. I knew there were places that could use help. I also knew that these places would probably hire me if I proved that I could succeed in the job. After some time searching, I found a small job. I could help out at the public library and in return get a small pay. The problem was I only had enough money to buy food. I still didn’t have a place to stay. Eventually I discovered the solution. When I was working in the library I met a nice college student. I talked with her and she learned that I was homeless. She told me that she was working on a project with her professor and some peers concerning the homeless. This intrigued me. I learned that they were making a documentary about the homeless. This documentary would show interviews of homeless people. The final goal would be to create a community of tiny houses for these homeless people.”

“Oh,” exclaimed the boy. “so that’s where this neighborhood came from.”

“Yes,” Nick replied, “and I volunteered to be interviewed. The student set up a meeting time for the interview. I was excited. When the day of the interview came I was happy that I could possibly get a tiny house. I met the professor whose name was Lucy. Lucy and the student that I had met interviewed me outside in the park. I was asked about what it was like to be homeless and why it was important to respect homeless people. I said that it was important to help people in worse situations than yourself and that it may give back to the community. Lucy talked to me and I responded, I knew that this documentary would make a change. I knew the tiny houses would help me and others in my situation.”

“Did it?” Asked the little boy.

“Did what?” Responded Nick.

“Did the tiny houses make a difference?” Restated the boy.

“Oh yes” Nick answered, “It did make a difference, a big one. After that interview, I was able to stay on my feet for the next two or so months. Then when I was least expecting it, Lucy found me and told me that the houses were ready. I got to move in. Lucy and some of her students were there to help me settle. Other homeless moved in. That’s why this neighborhood is here. It helps people get on their feet. I am here to help settle people in. After people get back on their feet they will move away to nicer houses; new people will then move into the vacant houses. I volunteered to help people move in, so I’m still living here. I know I can give to the community and help this way.”

“I still don’t understand one thing.” Questioned the boy.

“What’s that?” Replied Nick.

“Why did Lucy and her students help you?” Finished the boy.

“The same reason anyone helps anyone. They want to give back to the community and make it a better place.

“I see.” said the little boy “Thank you!”

The boy enjoyed Nick’s Story. He wanted to give to the community and the people in it. He had the great idea to get donations for Nick and the homeless community. He collected donations and gave them to Nick to help create more houses and programs for the homeless. Nick was thankful to the little boy for his support. The little boy was happy that the community could prosper.



Seeking Shelter: A Tiny Home Solution

Seeking Shelter is a documentary short about the Housing First Village Project, the result of a partnership among the Human Resource Development Council, Reverend Connie Campbell-Pearson, and the Schools of Architecture and Film & Photography at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT.

The HFV Project will provide transformative housing to Bozeman’s chronically homeless. Targeted towards the homeless population that is most at risk, HFV is a safe and sustainable model designed to support successful reintegration into community living and permanent housing. The single-user “tiny” homes will provide a cost-effective way to address the growing issue of homelessness while maintaining the autonomy and dignity of the resident. Utilizing best practices from around the nation, the HFV project is based on the “Housing First” philosophy, which foregrounds access to housing rather than sobriety, employment, etc.

In May 2017, architecture graduate students and community volunteers began the construction of a prototype tiny house under the supervision of MSU architecture Professors Ralph Johnson and Bill Clinton. Every step in the building process was documented by film MFA students Jessica Portuondo and Evangeline Koonce with the guidance and supervision of MSU film Professor Lucia Ricciardelli. The resulting documentary features the story of this prototype tiny home as well as personal interviews with Bozeman residents who have experienced homelessness in our community.

Documentary Release Events

The MSU School of Arts and Architecture and Housing First Village present: Seeking Shelter: A Housing First Solution.  Join us for a viewing followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers, advising professors, and Housing First village stakeholders.

September 18
Ground Breaking Ceremony 4:00pm - 4:30pm
Location TBD
Screening at the Procrastinator 5:00pm - 5:30pm
Q&A 5:30pm - 6:00pm

September 20
Screening at the Emerson Center for Culture and Arts
Appetizers 6:30pm - 7:00pm
Screening 7:00pm - 7:30pm
Q&A 7:30pm - 8:00pm

New Housing First Village Americorps VISTA

My name is Tim Cleasby and I am serving with HRDC to build capacity for the Housing First Village project for a year. I am originally from Washington, D.C, but have spent the last four years studying at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina. Upon graduating with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science in Decemeber, 2016, I was eager to experience something entirely new. I have been thoroughly enjoying my first taste of Montana and I look forward to meeting all of you very soon.


Please contact me for ways you can get involved in HFV:

Phone: (406) 585-4882


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Volunteers needed for tiny home build.

On July 22, we will be starting the second tiny home build project. We are so thankful for all of the contributions that our community has made, but we still need your help!

If you have experience as architect, engineer, carpenter, or have construction experience, we would appreciate your help. Please bring any tools that you have! We will also be providing lunch, snacks, and drinks for all of our hard workers.

If you cannot make it we still want to hear from you! You can loan tools* or donate money for the future homes. We cannot wait for this project to start, so please join us in the fight against homelessness in Bozeman!

We will be building on the following dates @ HRDC, 32. S Tracy:
July 22-23
July 29-30
August 5-6

Sign up to be a part of the wonderful build team:

* tools needed include: Table Saw, Chop Saw, Electric Drills with Bit Sets, Socket Sets, Levels, 2-3 Air Compressors with Hose and Nail Gun.

For more information:
Robin Mayer
(406) 585-4853


HFV Community Q&A

Do you have questions, concerns, or want to get involved in Housing First Village?  Join us at the Bozeman Public Library on May 24 at 5:30pm.  Presenters will be MSU Architecture Professor Ralph Johnson, Community Leader and Deacon Connie Campbell-Pearson, and HRDC Housing Director Sara Savage.  Light refershments will be provided.