City Resources Work To Assist Homeless Population From All Angles

City Resources Work To Assist Homeless Population From All Angles

By Abbi Ross
The Razorback Reporter

Labeling bags of cat and dog food, finding the best contractor to fix a hole in the roof of a family home and meeting with recently rehomed families are all in a day’s work for employees of the city Community Resource Division.

Resources offered by Fayetteville tackle several issues those in need might face,

Adam Roberts, one of the project coordinators for the City of Fayetteville, labeling dog food at the Ranger’s Pantry Pet Food Bank. Photos by Abbi Ross.

including transportation, finding housing, repairing houses and securing housing.

“We are kind of hitting it from all points,” said Yolanda Fields, community resources director for the city.

The Fayetteville Hearth program provides assistance with rent, housing and utility deposits, as well as case management, according to the September 2019 quarterly report.

The program has helped house and provided case management for 196 people since February of 2016.

At the end of September, 38 scattered-site units were occupied across the city, housing families and individuals, Fields said.

Hearth Place is a part of the program in which the city collects everything from home goods to toiletries to kitchen essentials and gives them individuals in a laundry basket when they are housed, Fields said.

The Hearth program uses a survey to assess the situation of clients and goes from there, said Robert Bradley, one of the case managers for the city.

“If you have three kids and are sleeping in your car, you are going to be higher on the list,” Bradley said.

After getting in touch with individuals to determine whether they will need short-term or permanent assistance, they will complete an application and they then have 30 days to look for housing, Bradley said.

The city assistance for permanent housing is available as long as needed, as long as rules are followed, Bradley said.

Adam Roberts, one of the project coordinators for the City of Fayetteville, organizing dog food at the Ranger’s Pantry Pet Food Bank.

There is no cap on the number of families the city can help, but there is only so much a case manager can handle, Bradley said.

If people do call for immediate services, they are referred to the Salvation Army, Bradley said.

The pet food bank is another one of the city’s resources available for those in need

Ranger’s Pantry Pet Food Bank was founded in 2010 and works to keep struggling families, individuals and their pets together during financial hardship, according to the Fayetteville Community Development Program website.

Through Oct. 25 the pantry has distributed more than 160,000 pounds of pet food, according to the city website.

Ranger’s Pantry has assisted 118 families, including 238 pets, and distributed more than 8,000 pounds of food for the year through Oct. 24, according to the official Facebook page.

Winter is the busier season for the pantry, especially for day laborers, but it aligns with the holiday season where people are more inclined to donate resources, said Adam Roberts, one of the project coordinators for the City of Fayetteville.

One of the trailers used for transportation at Ranger’s Pantry Pet Food Bank.

The main focus of Ranger’s Pantry is cat and dog food, but it does occasionally get bedding for rodents, birdseed and other items, Adams.

The pantry also accepts pet beds, leashes and toys.

The only restriction for the program is that clients must live in Fayetteville. If a client is homeless the pantry will accept somewhere such as 7Hills Homeless Shelter for their address.  Others are required to bring a bill for proof of address, Adams said.

“Income requirements are set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but we take it by faith,” Adams said.

The city assists with resources including taxis and transit services, housing rehabilitation program and the Help a Neighbor Fund.

The entrance to Ranger’s Pantry Pet Food Bank, which is open from 12:00-3:00 p.m. on Friday’s.

The latest count showed 529 people in Fayetteville were facing homelessness on Jan. 24, 2019, according to the Northwest Arkansas Continuum of Care’s Point-in-Time census.

NWA Continuum of care is is a non-profit coalition working to end homelessness in the region. Volunteers are passionate about ending homelessness in the region, according to their website.

The Point in Time Count is a HUD-required count of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January that HUD requires Continuums of Care conduct.

For those 529 as well as families and individuals who might not have been counted, a variety of resources are available in Fayetteville.

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Abbi Ross is a junior at the University of Arkansas where she is studying journalism with a news and editorial concentration. She is a reporter for the Arkansas Traveler and the Lemke Digital Media Lab,where she covers homelessness. Her past experience includes working with her hometown newspaper and working for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture in the communications department.