Riverview Hope Campus Plans
In 2011, the Old Fort Homeless Coalition hired an expert on homeless campuses to evaluate the possibility of opening a campus model here in Fort Smith. After tours and visits to San Antonio, Dallas, St. Petersburg, San Diego, Oklahoma City, Little Rock, and Augusta (Maine) from 2011-2014, we have the vision for the Riverview Hope Campus.
A 127,000-square foot building, the former Riverside Furniture plant One, located on seven acres at 301 South E Street will serve as the Riverview Hope Campus. Construction, renovation, and programs will take place in three phases.
Phase One includes acquisition of the plant, and a 35,000-square foot renovation of the building to establish a 75-bed low-barrier shelter. This shelter will house the chronically homeless with a mat, meals, and showers. We will encourage those staying at the shelter to participate in the on-campus day program. Phase One also includes a cafeteria and commercial kitchen, showers, laundry area, classrooms, clinic exam rooms, counseling rooms, barber shop, kennels for pet companions, bulk storage, personal storage areas, and worship center.
Phase Two includes the addition of 12 single room occupancy (SRO) apartments for transitional housing to be occupied by the homeless who have shown progress toward transitioning out of homelessness by attending classes, looking for a job, and helping around campus.
Phase Three includes the addition of a 25-bed facility – Safe Haven – to help stabilize and care for chronically homeless persons suffering from mental health issues.
Plans are underway to make Riverview Hope campus sustainable by developing a business-based venture on campus to help address a community need and to provide jobs and job training for those served. Similar campus models across the United States have shown there is a 80 to 95 percent success rate of transitioning people out of homelessness, compared to 7 to 10 percent realized by models which do not offer comprehensive services in a centralized location.