The Serve Northwest Arkansas Board of Directors has received notice that the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees has approved the sale of 4.69 acres of land located at South 19th Street in Fayetteville to Serve Northwest Arkansas (a 501c3 not for profit organization). We are truly grateful for the University of Arkansas and the work they have done to be a part of the solution to ending homelessness in our community.
This significant milestone will allow Serve NWA to move forward with Phase 1 of our New Beginnings Community initiative to provide additional emergency/transitional micro-shelters for unsheltered homeless people living in Fayetteville. This initiative is specifically designed to meet housing needs through a “Housing First” approach. This approach will help those without housing opportunities to have a roof over their head while at the same time providing coordinated and comprehensive wrap-around services to help place them on the path towards permanent supportive housing.
Currently, 44% of the 1,487 individuals surveyed by the Center for Collaborative Care via HarkNWA.com are in need of housing support with hundreds of people identified who are currently unsheltered or in emergency shelter situations.
Serve NWA began working on the New Beginnings Community initiative concept, based on the ten years of data that most recently identified 15% of the 2,931 homeless persons in Washington and Benton Counties as unsheltered. This statistic has increased since the first Point in Time Census that was developed and implemented by the Community and Family Institute at the University of Arkansas. As the Northwest Arkansas population continues to grow, this growth continues to create fewer affordable housing options.
The New Beginnings Initiative will add needed capacity for emergency shelter services (such as provided by Salvation Army) to affordable permanent supportive housing solutions which are often too high of an initial bar given the affordable housing availability in Northwest Arkansas.
Serve NWA is dedicated to a housing first approach that leads to permanent housing while addressing the immediate needs and complex hurdles that exist between available emergency shelter services and permanent affordable housing solutions.
Serve NWA will work with the Northwest Arkansas Continuum of Care and area homeless service providers to ensure there is a coordinated pathway of care without duplication of services. This will ensure that New Beginnings residents will receive the needed support through case management services, job training opportunities, health services, and more in support of the community goal of permanent housing solutions.
The 258 identified people in our community who are either unsheltered or in emergency shelter are on our strategic map to provide more capacity and services while permanent housing options are identified.
ABOUT THE NEW BEGINNINGS INITIATIVE
Serve NWA is working with community leaders, faith leaders, business owners, concerned citizens, educational institutions, and local elected leaders who are actively pursuing a solution to the growing homeless problem in Fayetteville.
Specifically, Serve NWA is seeking to improve conditions of unsheltered homeless people living in Fayetteville. The conditions that the majority of homeless persons living outside experience are unsanitary, unsafe, unsupported, and uncontrolled – creating both public health and safety hazards. This working group believes we have a solution that could immediately improve their living conditions and enrich many lives in the process.
The “New Beginnings Community” initiative is designed to be a self-managed community of low-cost micro-shelters for people in need of shelter. These communities, now sprouting up across the United States like SquareOne Villages in Eugene, Oregon, have been shown to have a lasting effect on addressing the complex emergency shelter needs of the homeless population. By providing shelter to our most vulnerable neighbors, we would be able to help them enter a pathway toward receiving comprehensive case management while addressing the root causes of their homeless circumstance.
This is a “Housing First” approach to quickly and successfully connect individuals and families experiencing homelessness to permanent housing without preconditions and barriers to entry, such as sobriety, treatment or service participation requirements. Once individuals are in safe, secure, and clean environments, we will work with community partners to provide the appropriate services to work on creating multiple pathways toward permanent housing solutions.
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