On Thursday, April 26, Housing Colorado honored the Beloved Community Village with an Eagle Award. This was the third major award given to the project since the village opened on July 21, 2017.
According to Housing Colorado's website, "The Eagle Awards were established in 1990, and have come to represent one of the highest achievements within the Colorado housing community. These prestigious awards celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments and outstanding leadership in housing and support services. The awards honor the individuals and collaborative projects that soar to new heights in their work to ensure safe, decent, affordable housing for all Coloradans."
Debra Bustos from the Urban Land Conservancy, and Tim Reinen from Radian/ Placematters joined CVC organizer, Cole Chandler, on stage to receive the award. To a room filled with more than 250 affordable housing advocates, Chandler gave the following remarks:
"Building Denver’s first tiny home village was a crazy process!
"This process took years of advocacy and organizing by people living on the streets who had a dream of a safe, dignified place to sleep.
"This process took strong partners like ULC, Radian, Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, Denver Homeless Out Loud, Beloved Community Mennonite Church, and Bayaud Enterprises coming together to bring the vision that emerged from the streets to reality.
"It was a crazy process all along, but nothing was crazier than the day that our final and arguably most important partner came on board -- the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.
"It was the day we were supposed to submit plans for our building permits to the Community Planning Department, and we still didn’t have a General Contractor on board. So we called a meeting, and we invited the only two contractors we knew… a retired, “Bob the Builder” type from my church, and one of the 5 largest construction companies in the country, Whiting-Turner…
"There we were in the boardroom at Denver Homeless Out Loud. There were about 30 of us in all, half of whom were homeless, another half were long term advocates of the project. We laid out the story of everything that had happened to that point to bring us to that day and said… “We’re going down to the permitting office in two hours, and we need a contractor.” And for some crazy reason, Mark Faul, the Vice President from Whiting-Turner, spoke up and said, “We’re in.”
"That was April, 21 2017.
"By May 20, 2017 we had permits in hand and 120 volunteers on site to build a village.
"On July 21, 2017 after organizing 6,000 hours of volunteer service in 2 months time, 14 people who woke up on the streets reached out and grabbed keys to their very own homes.
"We’re standing here because of the efforts of a community. A community that covered every sector of this city. Every race, creed, class, gender preference, and sexual orientation.
"We emphasize that community brought us here, because community is counterintuitive for the American psyche. The American spirit is built upon the myth of the rugged individual. We love the idea of individualism in this country. Even our housing justice work focuses on individual success stories, individual outcomes, individuals reclaiming their self-sufficiency.
"This approach will not solve our housing crisis.
"We can’t get out of this crisis on our own.
"To move beyond this crisis, we must move beyond the illusion of independence, and begin to see our interdependence.
"We must begin to understand that we are all family. That the women and men sleeping in our sidewalks and alleyways are not strangers to be feared; they are instead our mothers and fathers, our sisters and brothers. We are all family.
"That’s what the Beloved Community Village represents. The Beloved Community Village represents the idea that we belong to one another, and that if we turn towards one another with the kind of care and compassion that builds a strong family, we can work our way out of this present crisis.
"So let us turn towards one another to design projects, programs, tax plans, and policy as family. Thank you!"