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What is the City Doing for the Homeless?

Fayetteville’s homeless population has been in the news of late. The removal of a homeless encampment on 19th street in early September has led many city residents to ask “What is the City doing for the homeless in our community?”

There are a number of organizations and institutions in Fayetteville that work together to serve and assist the homeless. It may surprise you to learn that of these, the City itself is the largest provider of temporary and permanent housing for homeless individuals and families, with an estimated 40 units of permanent housing available through the Community Resources Department’s HEARTH program.

To date, the City’s Community Resources Department has provided housing assistance to 86 adults and 94 children in 2018.

Where is the housing located?

The City’s Community Resources department works with area landlords who agree to make their properties available for homeless housing. These properties are scattered throughout the city and vary in size and style, from one-bedroom apartments to single-family houses.

How is the housing paid for?

The City receives funding from the department of Housing and Urban Development to provide housing and other services to homeless and low-to-moderate income residents of the community. Some of the money goes to fund the City’s own programs, such as those listed below. When the budget allows funding is available for outside non-profit organizations through Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs) application process that the City administers.

Who decides who gets housing?

The local Continuum of Care maintains an ongoing and constantly updated list of homeless individuals, known as a “By-Name List.” The list is compiled by reports from all the various organizations and institutions that provide services to the homeless. Based on a specific list of criteria, individuals are ranked on the list from most vulnerable to least vulnerable. Those rated as the most at-risk are offered housing first, as it becomes available.

What else is the City doing to help?

Providing housing is really the beginning of a process, not the end. The Community Resources division employs three full-time case workers who also provide personalized assistance to those placed in City housing, which includes help in navigating the necessary municipal procedures for receiving additional aid, help in acquiring documents to get drivers licenses or to place children in school, transportation vouchers, job training and employment search assistance, and more. There are also City-operated programs that provide household items, pet food, and other necessaries through community donations.

How many homeless people are living in Fayetteville?

This is a tough number to nail down, as the population moves around quite a bit. Estimates vary, and there are few estimates for Fayetteville alone, as most are calculated by county.

Each year, the organizations involved in serving the homeless conduct an intensive, 24-hour count of homeless individuals in their community, and use those numbers for the next year’s estimates of needs. This is known as a “point-in-time” count. In January, 2018, Fayetteville’s “point-in-time” count was an estimated 169 homeless individuals.

For the full region, comprising Washington and Benton counties, the Community and Family Institute at the University of Arkansas estimates there are more than 2,400 homeless individuals. This figure accounts for people living on the street or taking refuge in shelters or other temporary housing, and also includes an estimated number of “invisible homeless,” those who are living with friends or family members and may not consider themselves homeless.

What Can You do to Help?

You can contribute to any of these City-run programs that aid the homeless.

HEARTH Place donations: Individuals concerned with homelessness in Fayetteville can make donations of household goods such as furniture, cleaners, bedding, towels, dishes and kitchen implements to the HEARTH Place program to provide furnishing for the homeless placed in City housing.

Help a Neighbor Program: This new charitable program operated by the City allows the public to use their phones to donate cash to help homeless, as well as low-to-moderate-income residents of our community. Just text “FAY” to 50155 to donate.

Donate pet food to Ranger’s Pantry: Ranger’s Pantry accepts donations of pet food to help the homeless, as well as low- to moderate-income residents, care for the pets they love. TO date the program has donated some 150,000 pounds of food, all donated by members of our community.

Make your property available: The City is always seeking more sources for homeless and transitional housing. Landlords renting through the Community Resources Department know that their rent will be paid directly from the City in a timely manner, and are assured that case workers from the City visit the residents in our program at least once a month, to be sure that they are maintaining the property and able to access all the resources they need. If you are have property available for rent, and are interested in working with the City to fight homelessness in Fayetteville, contact the Community Resources Department at (479) 575–8260.

So You Know:

City of Fayetteville Programs for homeless and low- to moderate-income residents, funded through HUD are:

HEARTH: This program provides temporary, transitional housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, along with support that helps them get back on their feet, such as education, training, and material resources. HEARTH also provides permanent housing and additional assistance to those with long-term needs.

Transportation: The City provides vouchers for public transit or taxi service to help people in need get to work, school, or to run necessary errands

Redevelopment: A program run by the City that helps clean up housing code violations — such as overgrown yards, debris, or trash — for homeowners who can’t afford to, or are physically unable to do it themselves.

Housing : This City program provides low- to moderate-income homeowners with improvements or repairs such as electrical, plumbing, insulation, roof repair, siding, or handicapped accessibility.

Community organizations that have received money from HUD through the City of Fayetteville’s Community Development Block Grant program over the past five years include:

Arts Live Theatre

Big Brothers Big Sisters of NWA

CASA of NWA

Credit Counseling of Arkansas

Fayetteville Senior Center

Head Start

LifeSource International

NWA Free Health Center

Peace at Home Family Shelter

Prism Education Center

Salvation Army

Yvonne Richardson Community Center

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