Austin-based credit union Amplify Credit Union announced Sept. 28 the completion of Mustard Seed Village, a tiny home community in Round Rock it funded that 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-bath homes where rent is capped at $1,375 a month.

A variety of residents—single parents, first responders, teachers, service industry workers, blue-collar workers and even students—make up the community, in-line with the Claypools’ goal of providing affordable housing to those who could benefit the 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 broke ground in January 2023 and was completed six months later. All of the homes were leased by June 15, only two weeks after construction wrapped.

Along with having a shared laundry space, outdoor fire pit and dog park, a girls group home is located in the center of the community.

The home, which was started by the Claypools and incorporates a one-year program through Teen Challenge, integrates the girls with the rest of the tiny home residents.

“The fifth phase of the program is when they graduate from the girls' home,” Claypool said. “They don’t have credit history, they don’t have rental history, they don’t have—especially out of high school—a good paying job, so they need a place to live. So, we’ve also transitioned some of the young ladies into the tiny homes to give them a chance.”

How we got here

Prior to working with Amplify, Claypool pitched the affordable community idea to at least six major financial institutions, but was turned away each time.

“It was kind of disheartening,” Claypool said. “All of them said, 'We really like your idea, it’s a good vision, [but] we just don’t see it working.' So, I had to change directions.”

Claypool met with Rene Flores, Place 2 Round Rock City Council member and loan officer for Amplify, whom he sold his “dream and vision” to. Flores said housing affordability is a concern he hears from residents, so funding the Mustard Seed project made sense.

“We do as much as we can as a city, but I believe it’s very much [up to] private development to fill that gap. We rely on builders and developers to have an eye and a heart to do that,” Flores said. “One of [Amplify’s] thoughts is that we can do something toward affordable housing. I don’t know that we think we can solve all of Central Texas’s issues, but if you can help one project at a time, that’s better than nothing.”

The takeaway

While there is currently a rental wait list, Claypool and Flores said they hope the village will inspire other groups to tackle the housing crisis in a way that addresses affordability while maintaining a sense of community.

“In a perfect world, every single person that needs an affordable, safe place to live, we could make that happen. Right now people are kind of growing roots out of their feet and they want to stay [at Mustard Seed],” Claypool said. “Hopefully we can help more people in the future with affordable housing ... My vision is not for people to look at [Mustard Seed] as a house, but as a home. I think a lot of times when we look at apartment complexes, people build them as high and as close together as they can so they can capitalize on every single dollar. Here, it wasn’t about that. It was about giving people space and having their own walls.”