New Beginnings Bridge Housing Community Opening Gets Delayed
Preparations are taking longer than organizers expected.
By Abbi Ross
The Razorback Reporter
Advocates for the area homeless population are working toward opening a self-managed, low-cost housing program next year. Plans had called for a fall 2019 opening, but preparations have taken longer than organizers anticipated.
Serve Northwest Arkansas, an outreach to underprivileged communities, is working to open the New Beginnings Bridge Housing Community in 2020.
The organization aims to help improve the conditions for Fayetteville’s homeless population with what volunteers call a “housing first” approach, according to the website.
“With our original time schedule, we felt going into this it would get us to a place where we would have a majority of the work completed before winter,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, board vice president and UA sociology professor. “That was the timeline in our head, sometimes our head doesn’t match with reality. We got a good dose of reality.”
Serve NWA bought 4.69 acres of undeveloped land for $72,571 from the University of Arkansas in 2018, said Mike Johnson, UA associate vice chancellor for Facilities Management.
The area was cleaned and cleared before being sold, Johnson said.
“I think it’s a great project,” Johnson said about the proposed community.
The New Beginnings Bridge Housing Community will house up to 20 people and will be similar to other communities across the United States.
Thurston Roye who is homeless, thinks the community could be very beneficial for those in need, he said.
There is not a completion date for the project.
Once everyone is satisfied with the final drawings they will be submitted to the city of Fayetteville, where they go through a process to be approved, after the approval, building permits are given to allow construction on the site, Fitzpatrick said.
They are hoping to have permits ready so things can get started by the end of September, Fitzpatrick said.
“When you commit to building a quality community to serve a complicated population you really have to make sure you think through every possible circumstance and possible problems you might encounter,” Fitzpatrick said
Gathering signatures, attending meetings, developing a 70-plus-page program manual and working with engineers who donated their time have all been part of process, Fitzpatrick said.
“At the same time we are getting the permit, we are also working with our general contractor and sending out bid sheets,” Fitzpatrick said. Potential bidders will provide a bid cost as well as donation.
“Some places will be willing to donate all their work, others might not charge cost of materials,” Fitzpatrick said.
“I fully expect that during the winter we will be in full swing constructionwise, so that by spring we are ready to take on clients,” Fitzpatrick said.
Yolanda Fields, community resources director thinks the community will be helpful for those in need.
Providing another safe environment will be beneficial, Fields said