This Kind Neighbor Finds Tiny Houses to Help her Community

Linda Brown creates forever homes for locals in tranquil villages.

Aug 13, 2021
Special Collections: CHANGEMAKERS
This Kind Neighbor Finds Tiny Houses to Help her Community | Linda Brown creates forever homes for locals in tranquil villages.

Linda Brown is a softly spoken realtor with a passion for helping the homeless. She is moving mountains by combining her understanding of real estate with her compassion-fueled determination to create beautiful forever homes for the most vulnerable members of her community: disabled homeless people.

In 2020, Mrs. Brown was awarded the Good Neighbor Award. This honor is initiated by The National Association of Realtors in the US. As its website details, working alongside her husband, Dr. David Brown, she has been transforming abandoned mobile homes into villages of tiny homes that offer permanent housing for homeless people who are chronically disabled. 

Together, and boosted by the help of numerous local volunteers, they have developed Eden Village, a unique hub of tiny homes. 

As Mrs. Brown told Goodnet: "My motivation is a dream where Springfield [Missouri] will be a city where no one sleeps outside and the joy is seeing the life-change in our friends who society has given up on."  

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The wish to help homeless people, and restore their dignity and self worth, as Mrs. Brown explains, had been a joint mission for some years. As local blogger Aaron Nichols shares, the couple ran a local evening drop-in center for local homeless people called Gardening Tree, for almost a decade. This functioned as a shelter where people experiencing homelessness could grab a bite, shower, do laundry and relax.

But they wanted to do more than what Dr. Brown called a “band-aid”, speaking to KOLR10 News. This desire stems from their philosophy that the homeless can best get a new lease on life once they have a roof over their heads. 

With the help of local organizations, the husband and wife team succeeded in raising almost $5 million, which enabled them to transform unused mobile homes and a dilapidated trailer park into a small village of tiny homes that opened in 2018. They named this haven “Eden Village”, reflecting the sanctuary it offers its residents.

As Mrs. Brown revealed in her award acceptance speech about her journey to creating Eden Village, helping homeless people is something personal: “I watched as my (homeless) friends walked off into the darkness to a hidden, wet, cold camp while we went home to a warm bed. I had to do something.”

Today, Eden Village includes a 4000 square foot community center offering cooking and laundry facilities, as well as a medical center staffed by volunteer student medics and mental health counselors. There are also community gardens.

And the project keeps on growing! In the last year, Mrs. Brown added another tiny home village and is up to 55 homes. More sites are being developed thanks to land donated to the nonprofit founded by the Browns.

Eden Village 2 and 3 are at the planning stage. In the next six years, Mrs. Brown hopes to create five similar villages housing up to 200 people experiencing homelessness.

Mrs. Brown remains determined to bring light back into the lives of the people she helps, and is driven by her deep-seated respect for her fellow human beings. As Jonathan Fisher, an Eden Village resident and now an employee says of her faith in him: “In the worst moments of my life, Linda gave me guidance, care, and made me feel like I was still worth something.”

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Daphne has a background in editing, writing and global trends. She is inspired by trends seeing more people care about sharing and protecting resources, enjoying experiences over products and celebrating their unique selves. Making the world a better place has been a constant motivation in her work.
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