DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Aug. 2, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- No one gets everything they want, but urban designer, policy analyst, and 2020 presidential candidate Michael E. Arth calls it a good first step. In fact, First Step is the name of a new homeless shelter near Daytona Beach, Florida. Beginning in 2006, Arth designed and proposed a plan to build a "Village for the Homeless" or "holistic, transformational campus of services" that would serve those who, for whatever reason, were falling through the cracks of society. The concept would be especially helpful to those who do not qualify for Housing First-type solutions, and would include jail diversion for those with addiction and mental health related disorders.
Arth called it Tiger Bay Village in honor of the Tiger Bay State Forest on its western boundary. It would have been in a tranquil setting by a small lake on county land, adjacent to an existing drug rehabilitation center, on the edge of Daytona Beach, Florida. The plan got wide-spread attention in 2012 when he released a heart-wrenching documentary infused with dark humor, Out of the Woods: Life and Death in Dirty Dave's Homeless Camp, which was viewed 645,000 times on YouTube. Arth documented five years in the lives of a group of homeless people living in the woods, including the story of a former beauty queen who died during the production after being hit by a car. Over nearly thirteen years, various organizations—most notably Arth and his Villages for the Homeless, Catholic Charities, the City of Daytona Beach, Halifax Urban Ministries, H.O.M.E., F.A.I.T.H., and Volusia County—organized, lobbying, fought, but mostly cooperated to get it done. First Step Shelter, across the road from Arth's proposed Tiger Bay Village location, is finally nearing completion, and it is slated to open in November. It is not the "holistic, transformational campus of services" that Arth originally envisioned, but it is a good first step and there is land to grow. Nevertheless, Arth's transformational campus concept has caught on elsewhere. The most notable example is Haven for Hope's 22-acre campus in San Antonio Texas, which opened in 2010.
At his website and in documentaries freely available on YouTube, Arth proposes even more comprehensive reform to end homelessness. He wants to end the "War on Drugs," which he says has actually been "a war on the poor." He also has ideas for addressing inequality and poverty, and reforming the prison system. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world because of these injustices, and Villages for the Homeless is only one part of the solution.
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SOURCE Michael E. Arth for President Campaign