MIDLAND, Texas — For John Mark Echols, helping the homeless has become a mission of his faith. That's why he's set out to develop The Field's Edge.
"We're looking to bring the most vulnerable and longest term homeless people into a place where they can heal and restore and find meaningful dignified work," said Echols.
Echols and his wife have acquired 23 acres of property in the south western sector of the city, south of Highway 20 and west of Loop 250. There they hope to build a community of 100 tiny homes in neighborhood groupings of 10. Each neighborhood would feature community bath, laundry, and kitchen facilities.
One out of every 10 of the neighborhood homes would be occupied by a supervising member of Echol's church.
"We'll actually live on site in the neighborhoods as a community relationship builder," said Echols.
Echols says The Field's Edge is a project that has been under design for several years from property allocation to permits, and still has to make its way through planning and zoning and city council agendas.
Though The Field's Edge is a project that he is well trained in developing, several years back he lived in and learned how to operate this kind of development in Austin while serving the Mobile Loaves and Fishes ministry.
There Echols was part of Community First! Village, a 51-acre community that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for the disabled, chronically homeless in Central Texas.
Echols has taken the virtues learned in Austin and is looking to apply them to Midland.
"We'll offer ways for people to earn a dignified income, things like gardening, wood working, landscaping, working as a blacksmith, and managing our kitchen facilities," said Echols.
The Field's Edge will also offer treatment options with in their community.
"One of the features of our village is a behavioral clinic that's on site that we have quick access for people to receive the care they need," said Echols.
The Field's Edge will be application based to anyone who's been homeless for more than a year, but there will be background checks for violent or sexual crimes.
Echols says those who are approved to move in to The Field's Edge and follow the rules will be welcome to stay for as long as they want. The facility is not a transitional community.