A generous Utah man has invited homeless residents to camp in his front yard so they have somewhere safe to stay. Darin Mann, who lives about five minutes outside of Salt Lake City, has roughly a third of an acre of land surrounding his house, space which he allows those without shelter to utilize in addition to offering up his bathroom and opportunities to work at the community garden he runs at a park nearby.
- Mann believes being part of a community means helping vulnerable residents. Talking to CNN, Mann admits that in addition to wanting to help homeless residents, he also wants other members of his community to begin viewing those without shelter with more compassion and care. “The goal is to de-stigmatize how people view homelessness,” Mann said. “Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and helped when they need it.”
- He calls the area the Village Camp. Since opening up his land in mid-January, roughly 15 people have come to pitch tents there, some of whom came from other camps that had been shut down in Salt Lake City. “We wanted to show that to solve this problem we have to address it as a community and not be afraid of it,” Mann said.
- The homeless residents have been helping out in any way they can. While many people have a false perception of homeless people that they’re lazy or undependable, Mann says that’s not the case at all and many of them are eager to pitch in. “They are helping me clean the garden and get it ready for the season. They keep the camp clean and are helping to be a positive example of working with unsheltered people,” he explained.
- Not everyone in the neighborhood is thrilled about Mann’s altruism. Many of the neighbors have complained about the Village Camp to the city council, who served Mann with a notice to shut down the camp within two weeks. However, Mann plans to do whatever he can to keep the camp open to keep those staying there secure.
- Mann’s gesture made a big difference to those he’s welcomed. “I don’t have to deal with stress knowing I don’t have to suddenly move,” a man named Michael told CNN. “Being away from a lot of the bad influences has helped me quit some of the addictions I struggle with.”