Round Rock’s first tiny home community provides affordable housing
Austin-based Amplify Credit Union announced Sept. 28 the completion of Mustard Seed Village, a tiny home community in Round Rock that it finances and offers affordable housing options.
The Big Picture
Mustard Seed Village was founded by Joseph Claypool, a lieutenant with the Round Rock Police Department, and his wife, Stephanie, a local teacher. The community features a total of 28 two-bedroom, one-bathroom homes where the maximum rent is $1,375 per month.
The community makes up a diverse population – single parents, first responders, teachers, service industry workers, laborers and even students – in keeping with Claypools’ goal of providing affordable housing to those who could benefit most.
“Growing up, my mom always told us that if you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can move mountains,” Claypool said. “(Stephanie and I) had a dream and a vision to give back to the community that gave to us.”
The project officially began in January 2023 and was completed six months later. All homes were rented by June 15, just two weeks after construction ended.
Besides having a shared laundry space, outdoor fire pit, and dog park, the girls’ group home is located in the center of the community.
The house, which was started by the Claypools and includes a one-year program through Teen Challenge, integrates the girls with the rest of the tiny house residents.
“The fifth phase of the program is when they graduate from the Girls Home,” Claypool said. “They don’t have a credit history, they don’t have a rental history, and they don’t have — especially out of high school — a good-paying job, so they need a place to live. So, we’ve also moved some young ladies into tiny homes to give them a chance.
How we got here
Before working with Amplify, Claypool pitched the idea of an affordable community to at least six major financial institutions, but was rejected every time.
“It was kind of frustrating,” Claypool said. “They all said: ‘We really like your idea, it’s a good vision, (but) we don’t see it working.’ So I had to change direction.”
Claypool met with Rene Flores, a Place 2 Round Rock city councilman and a loan officer at Amplify, who sold him his “dream and vision.” Flores said housing affordability is a concern he hears from residents, so funding the Mustard Seed Project made sense.
“We’re doing our best as a city, but I think it’s largely about private development filling that gap. We’re relying on builders and developers to have the eye and heart to do this,” Flores said. “One of (Amplify’s) ideas is that we can do something about Affordable housing. I don’t know if we think we can solve all of Central Texas’ problems, but if you can help one project at a time, that’s better than nothing.
While there is currently a waiting list for rent, Claypool and Flores said they hope the village will inspire other groups to address the housing crisis in a way that addresses affordability while maintaining a sense of community.
“In an ideal world, everyone needs a safe, affordable place to live, we can make that happen. Right now, people are starting to grow off their feet and want to stay (at Mustard Seed),” Claypool said. “I hope we can help more.” Of people in the future by providing affordable housing… My vision is not for people to look at The Mustard Seed as a home, but as a home. I think a lot of times when we look at apartment complexes, people build them as high up and as close together as possible so they can get every dollar out. Here, it wasn’t about that. “It was about giving people space and putting up their own walls.”
(Tags for translation) Round Rock