Officials explain the process to filling all the homes at Eden Village

Officials say there is a process to filling all the homes at Eden Village
Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 7:13 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Eden Village is a tiny-home community made to help get people off of the streets and into a home, but the process takes a lot longer than some might think.

Hundreds of people need a home in the Wilmington area, and the staff of Eden Village are working towards helping those in need, one person at a time.

Eden Village held its grand opening in May. The village consists of 31 tiny homes and as of Wednesday afternoon, only 16 of those homes are occupied. Many people may ask the question, why wait to move people in?

“Getting a person in a home is a process within itself. You just don’t want to take a person and throw them in the home and tell them to now live, you know, you just go in and you get them acclimated to the community. And if I bought 31 individuals in here, all at one time, then it would be kind of chaotic for those individuals.”

Shawn Hayes is the executive director of Eden Village. He said they choose to move in between two and three people each week.

The move-in process is designed to help give people a sense of community. Hayes said he and other volunteers take the time to ensure all people who move in have everything they need.

“Some of them aren’t comfortable sleeping at night inside. And so, you know, we have to walk through all of that with them. We’re really doing life with people once they come in here. And so to do that, in a thoughtful manner is paramount,” said Hayes.

To live in Eden Village residents need to meet a list of requirements. Those who are interested in applying must be single with no children, they also must have a physical or mental disability. Residents also must pay $300 a month in rent, with the money coming from disability checks.

Residents also must have been homeless in Wilmington for at least a year. Officials say many of the people who currently live in the village have been homeless for five to seven years. Right now, over 200 people sit on the waitlist hoping to secure a home.

The 15 homes that are currently empty have been assigned to people on the waitlist. Hayes said they have a scoring system to help dictate the order in which people move in. Officials from Eden Village hope to have all of the homes filled in the weeks to come.

Recently, Eden Village was also granted $500,000 from the State Employee’s Credit Union. The money was given as an unrestricted grant. Officials from the village say the money is going towards maintaining property grounds and a community center for residents.

“Our Community Center is the hub for our community. And here we can, you know, we can have whatever wraparound services that a person will need, we have a therapist that comes here and does therapy for whoever wants to sign up. We have bingo nights, here, we have game nights, we have communal meals and things like that in our community center,” said Hayes.

Residents who live in Eden Village say there really is a sense of community in the neighborhood. Terry Mangum applied to live in Eden Village before the houses were fully built. For people like Mangum, the wait was worth it.

“With most of the people that are here, somewhere along the line on the streets, we have met, our paths have crossed and we’ve remained friends through all those years and again through the grace of God, here we are today,” said Mangum.

Other residents say living in the village also gives them a second chance at life, and they look forward to what could come next.

“Being fortunate is one being blessed as another. And really, it’s a new chapter in my life,” said Richard Dereef, Eden Village resident.