Where will the village be located?
7538 Warfield Drive; just off Highway 90 in New Orleans East
What is the vision for santosha village?
Santosha Village is a gated healing community for people who have temporarily experienced life without housing. Santosha Village will have 20-25 small, residential cabins set in a lush green setting surrounded by activities and amenities to help residents rebuild their support network and foster a sense of home. The Village will include a communal gathering area, an enclosed sacred space, vegetable gardens, shared restroom and showering facilities, a workshop, offices and more. Santosha will be a place where people can heal, collaborate to start businesses and explore pathways to homeownership.
Why is Santosha Village Necessary
Today, nearly 4 out of 10 individuals are a single paycheck away from being without a home. Santosha Village is the stepping stone that allows those eager to get back on their feet, the space, support and opportunity to change their life situation.
Isn't this another Homeless Shelter?
No, not at all. Santosha Village is a beautiful, healing village that carefully selects those who are ready to create a change in their lives, heal and be in supportive nurturing environment as they work on obtaining permanent housing.
What amenities will the village offer?
The following amenities will be offered to villagers and neighbors alike:
- Farmers Market
- Vegetable Gardens
- Tool Rental Library/Bike Tools
- Laundry Facilities
- Computer Lab
- Small Business Incubator
- Community Van (Transport)
- Community Kitchen/Cooking Classes
- Yoga Studio/Wellness Classes
- Meeting Space
- Rain garden
Will Plum Orchard neighbors be able to participate in Santosha services?
Yes. We believe that communities are strong when neighbors work together and we welcome neighbors to be a part of Santosha and utilize the Village as a community resource. We believe that communities are stronger when we look out for each other and work together.
How does Santosha Village help people change their lives?
Santosha provides a supportive environment that gives people the time and space they need to get back on their feet. Santosha Village will help residents improve their lives by providing:
- Affordable Residency: Cabins surrounded by nature and modern amenities
- Integrated Wellness: A program that includes proven activities such as yoga, meditation along with conventional medical and mental health services and spiritual guidance from local churches.
- Micro-Business: A program that helps individuals create very small, flexible businesses started that can slowly grow to a “real jobs”
- Pathways to Homeownership: A program that allows people to invest in the construction of their own home for as little as $150/mo.
What is the project completion timeline?
We plan to develop the project incrementally and estimate that our first few residents will start living there by fall of 2018.
Who will live at Santosha Village and how will residents be selected?
The residents who will live at Santosha will be carefully selected. Applicants will include individuals who lack stable housing, live with family members, or have experienced life unhoused at some point. Residents must demonstrate a desire to better themselves and participate in bettering the greater community.
Residents will be selected from the pool of individuals who voluntarily participate in our wellness programming. From there, the applicants must successfully complete our 2-day orientation retreat and be approved by our Village Steering Committee. Residents will reside in the Village for a trial period of 30 days before being invited to live at Santosha Village.
Who will manage the village?
The day-to-day operations will be carried out by residents, including gardening, maintenance, cleaning, security, etc. The village will be democratically governed by its residents through a Village Council and weekly resident meetings where villagers have the opportunity to vote on pressing matters. Any issues that can't be resolved through the Village Council and the weekly meetings will be brought to the Santosha Village Advisory Committee, composed of neighbors, churches, Santosha board members and Village residents for final decision. This model has been successful in the past in other communities
Are there successful models for this type of community?
Yes. There are over 17 villages that have been successfully implemented in other cities. Here are a couple examples:
- Community First in Austin, mlf.org/community-first
- Opportunity Village in Oregon, squareonevillages.org/opportunity
What is the possibility there will be increased incidents of crime?
Minimal to none. In fact, we hope that crime will decrease due to us occupying a previously blighted property and the positive effect of all the amenities. There will be a full fence around the property with only one entrance that will be monitored. We will have clear guest policies and no loitering will be allowed around the property. We also plan to have security cameras around the property which our neighbors will be able to watch activity from a cell phone.
Will Santosha Village negatively impact property values?
No. In fact we believe that this beautiful healing sanctuary will increase the value of the neighborhood. We expect neighbors and New Orleans will be proud of this model.
Who is the Santosha leadership?
Santosha is a registered 501c(3) run in an open, transparent manner. All are welcome to join. Here are a few of the board members and advisors:
- Haiyan Khan, Founder. An engineer by trade, who moved to New Orleans after Katrina.
- Vicki Judice, Executive Director of the Harry Tompson Center & Former Assistant Director of Unity of New Orleans
- Father Tom Stehlik, Pastor of St. Joseph Church in New Orleans
- BB St. Roman, Executive Director NOPD Homeless Assistance Police
- Kimberly VanWagner, Executive Director of The Uptown Shepard Senior Center
- Eva Sohl , Former Director of the Freret Neighborhood Center
- Shelley Boyles, Formerly unhoused social worker & yoga teacher
- David Johnson, a diligent team member, speaker and an individual who also formerly experienced being shelterless
Will the residents living at Santosha Village have to pay?
Yes. They will have to pay $60/mo to reside in one of our houses.
How much does this project cost and who is funding it?
This project is a labor of love. Everyone working on it is a volunteer. We have no major grants and all our money is through individual donations, businesses people willing to provide their services pro bono. A traditional similar project may cost closer to $1.5 Million, by doing all the work ourselves, we believe we can do for less than at a third of this cost.
What does the word Santosha mean?
Santosha is an ancient word that means, contentment, integrity and fullness.