FORT SMITH, Ark., Oct. 23, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Riverview Hope Campus First Step, a new, 75-bed homeless shelter, is breaking ground thanks in part to a $500,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) and member institution, First National Bank of Fort Smith (FNB Fort Smith). The event was attended by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.
The funds were awarded to the Old Fort Housing Coalition (Coalition) to help renovate a 127,000-square-foot building, previously used as a furniture manufacturing plant. The first phase of the $2.9 million project involves the remodeling of approximately 30,000 square feet.
"As governor, when I see the Federal Home Loan Bank (of Dallas) and the First National Bank of Fort Smith partnering together to support something that might not create thousands of jobs, but helping people in the trenches that are having a hard time in life, that is really extraordinary and an example for other financial institutions to follow," said Governor Hutchinson. "The support of this homeless, comprehensive shelter means not only a place for someone who's homeless, down on their luck, to have a place to stay, but also to receive the services that are so much needed to get them back on their feet to (help) them contribute, to help them have the job training that's needed. That's exactly what they need. And I'm so delighted with the Federal Home Loan Bank supporting this effort."
FNB Fort Smith President and CEO Samuel T. Sicard joined the governor and representatives from FHLB Dallas at the groundbreaking event yesterday.
"This effort will significantly improve chances of the Fort Smith homeless population moving out of homelessness into productive lives," Mr. Sicard said. "We are grateful to FHLB Dallas for helping make this project possible."
In addition to the beds, the Riverview Hope Campus will include showers, bathrooms, a kitchen, dining area, outdoor gathering spaces, library, a medical facility staffed by a local hospital, and room for other organizations to provide services, all under one roof.
Ken Pyle, former executive director of Fort Smith Housing Authority, retired in late September, but remains on the board of Old Fort Homeless Coalition and Riverview Hope Campus. He said: "The groundbreaking marks a milestone in meeting the needs of the homeless population in Fort Smith."
Mr. Pyle estimated that every night at least 90 to 100 individuals sleep unsheltered. The greater Fort Smith metro area, the second largest in the state, encompasses nearly 280,000 people.
"There's still a lot of work to do, but we can get it done if we work in a thoughtful, merciful fashion. The key is to show mercy, not judgment." said Mr. Pyle.
Coalition President Karen Phillips, who also serves on FHLB Dallas' Affordable Housing Advisory Council, said the Riverview Hope Campus project has been a community vision for a long time. "We have a growing amount of street homelessness in our area, and this is an opportunity to provide not only a safe place for the homeless to rest their heads, but also to give them hope. Throughout the years, we have really noticed certain needs that are not being met. To remedy that, there have been some amazing people who have joined together to be champions for those who don't usually have a voice."
The annual AHP grants assist in the development of affordable, owner-occupied, rental, and temporary housing for very low- to moderate-income households located across FHLB Dallas' five-state District of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. In 2015, FHLB Dallas awarded $7.4 million in AHP grants to 32 projects that will result 965 new or renovated housing units.
Greg Hettrick, vice president and director of Community Investment at FHLB Dallas, said the needs are great throughout the District, but FHLB Dallas' members are committed to providing funding for projects, such as Riverview Hope.
"Our District continues to see a shortage of housing for homeless people. Through our valued partnership with FNB Fort Smith, 75 additional beds will be available to serve the homeless population in Fort Smith. Making a difference in each affected person's life is the real objective."
About First National Bank of Fort Smith
The First National Bank of Fort Smith was organized February 29, 1872, as "The National Bank of Western Arkansas." A charter was issued by the Comptroller of the Currency, authorizing the bank to commence business on March 22, 1872. Today, the First National Bank of Fort Smith has 13 locations in the River Valley, five locations in Northwest Arkansas and three locations in Eastern Oklahoma. In addition, customers are offered the convenience of banking at any of the six Citizens Bank & Trust locations in Crawford County. Through First Bank Corporation, we offer our customers the availability of 30 ATM's and 27 bank locations in the River Valley, Northwest Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma. With the addition of Brown-Hiller-Clark in 2002, we offer our customers a complete array of financial services including banking, insurance, trust, and investments services throughout the Arkansas River Valley, Northwest Arkansas, and Eastern Oklahoma.
About the Old Fort Homeless Coalition
The Old Fort Homeless Coalition (OFHC) was formed in 2007 to serve the homeless and low-income citizens of Crawford, Franklin, Logan, Polk, Scott, and Sebastian Counties in Arkansas. Today, OFHC is a coalition of 30 service providers working together to ensure urgent needs are met while reducing the risk of duplication of services.
About the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas
The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas is one of 11 district banks in the FHLBank System created by Congress in 1932. FHLB Dallas, with total assets of $42.6 billion as of June 30, 2015, is a member-owned cooperative that supports housing and community development by providing competitively priced advances and other credit products to approximately 865 members and associated institutions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas.
Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas
SOURCE Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas