The Progression of Conway’s Hope Village
Hope Village, a community of ten quality homes being built to address the problem of homelessness in the Conway community, is the latest initiative of the City of Hope Outreach. CoHO is a community development organization in Central Arkansas led by Dr. Phillip D. Fletcher, the founder and executive director. Dr. Fletcher is the driving force behind Hope Village and hopes to see the project completed by this time next year.
Hope Village has come in response to the overwhelming need for change through compassion and care in Conway. From 2015 to 2016, two other organizations had tried to open homeless shelters in the city, but neither succeeded. So in 2017 when Gary Harrison, a friend of Dr. Fletcher’s, passed away in a fire in his mobile home trailer, he was moved to want to do something different to provide not just a place to stay but quality housing to those without a lot of money.
Dr. Fletcher met with architect Rik Sowell, and together they designed Hope Village–a different way of addressing homelessness through support for individuals and families. Five homes will be 1 bed 1 bath, and another five homes will be 2 bed 1 bath in this tiny community. Ground was broken this year, with the walls and roofs up on one 2 bed 1 bath house and another 1 bed 1 bath house. The progress of the build is dependent on the donations and involvement of the community, but Dr. Fletcher hopes to be hanging drywall soon.
Many local businesses continue to donate their time, labor, and resources to Hope Village to help with the build. Out of their $1.4 million end goal, they have raised $662,059.80–a number steadily rising. With final 2022 donations rolling in, they hope to have reached $800,000 by the end of the year.
Right now, the majority of volunteer work they need can only come from licensed professionals for quality and safety reasons, but there are other ways for people to help.
First, once the houses are finished, design work will give people the opportunity to volunteer with their different levels of skills and experience. Second, there are opportunities to serve on the Hope Village Committee, which meets every first Monday of the month and is a one year commitment. Dr. Fletcher describes this opportunity as having “influence over something unique and new to our city that is seeking to address very difficult human experiences like homelessness.”
Physical housing is not the only thing Hope Village will provide community members with. The Hope Village donation website describes their mission as “the creation of a community which affirms human dignity, offers quality housing, and provides a foundation for homeless advocacy in the city of Conway.” They will offer case management services, job development, emotional support, and counseling to set people up for success once they leave.
Residents will meet with the case manager, who will live on site at Hope Village, to assess their needs once a month. The case manager will help them figure out where they’re currently at and where they want to be, while providing the resources necessary to close that distance.
Dr. Fletcher describes the case manager as a friend who will walk with residents through achieving their goals. His own personal goal is that the person receiving help will one day be able to be the one giving to someone else in a similar situation.
Hope Village is creating local partnerships with organizations to provide this supportive housing. Face-to-Face therapy will provide support to individuals and families to address mental health needs. ARcare will work with them as well to help secure health insurance for residents and address physical, mental, and emotional needs.
These partnerships are something that makes Hope Village completely unique and something desperately needed in the community, because it is only through working together that we can create change.
Dr. Fletcher wants Hope Village to serve as a model for surrounding communities, because the problem of homelessness does not end at the county line. A second Hope Village is an eventual goal, one on a larger scale with even more services.
The time of giving a resident their own key and letting them lock the door behind them is quickly approaching–and Dr. Fletcher cannot wait to be beside the first person that gets that key.
Wrapping it up
To learn more about Hope Village, join them for Christmas carols and hot chocolate at Cookies and Carols for Hope Village on Sunday, December 18th from 2-3pm at Simon Park at the Kris Allen Stage in Conway. You can donate at their website hopevillagecoho.org, buy a t-shirt to support their cause and follow them on Instagram to stay updated.
“Persis “Katy” Reagan is a Writing Major, Public Relations Minor at the University of Central Arkansas. She can usually be found writing, managing the UCA Feminist Union, or making a pumpkin spice latte at the Torreyson Library Starbucks.”