Seeing a group of people he knew enter the coffee shop from the window of his office across the street, Wayne Cox popped in to say hello where he met Dr. Phillip Fletcher, the founder and executive of the City of Hope Outreach (CoHO). Getting to know Fletcher and his organization, Cox was moved by CoHO and their advocacy for homeless people in the Faulkner County area by providing support, resources and the right push to get them back on their feet.
Fletcher started the Hope Home of CoHO as a center for homeless men to find the help they need. “Phillip is the kind of person that believes that if you give a man a fish he can eat for a day, but if you teach a man how to fish he can eat forever,” Cox, now a member of the CoHO team, said.
At the Hope Home, active approaches are taken to help individuals in the community with the challenges they may be facing without a home, food insecurity and drug abuse. “We want to help as many people as we can, but we need them to want to take a proactive approach in finding new opportunities. If anyone comes in with a drug or alcohol abuse problem, we set them up with the organization Renewal Ranch to put them on the right track to getting clean,” Cox explained.
The Hope Home works with businesses and organizations around the county to guide the people staying at the house with the resources they need. “Whatever their particular situation may be, and everyone is unique, we try to find them a job. Once they start earning enough money, a portion of their check goes to help support the house and the rest goes into their savings to help them get back on their feet. Saving half of the check and using the other half for the house helps teach responsibility and how to manage money in ways that are beneficial,” Cox said.
The Hope Home along with a few other initiatives for under-resourced families have made a substantial impact on the community, so much so that the organization is broadening their outreach and support to create the Hope Village. This project includes ten tiny houses that will be available for homeless individuals and families to live in until they are able to once again provide for themselves. “This community of tiny houses will be so helpful for those that really need the support,” Cox said. There will be five one-bedroom homes at 480 square feet and five two-bedroom homes at 600 square feet. Two homes will be reserved for homeless veterans in particular. “There are too many veterans in the community that don’t have homes or support. This needs to change,” Cox said.
All utilities will be in the homes, and each unit will be fully furnished. Like the Hope Home, individuals will learn how to manage their earnings responsibly by saving and using a portion of their paychecks for the home. The residents will live in the homes for two years before they are phased out and able to be back on their feet, ideally in a home of their own. There are approximately 964 homeless individuals in Faulkner County, and everyone will be able to find a home at Hope Village, but the team at CoHO are working on how to reach those that most need the help and will continue supporting the under-resourced in the community.
Funding for the village has been coming from anywhere and everywhere. Grants, donations and involvement from businesses in the area are major contributors to the effort to get the village moving as quickly as possible. “We have a registry at Ace Hardware for anyone that wants to help out in practical ways. Paint, hardware, and any of the small things needed to make a home a home are essential to our project, so we appreciate anything the community can help out with,” Cox says. CoHO has received a donation of concrete, heating and air, painters and a multitude of skilled individuals that have stepped up to the plate of building Hope Village.
A special fundraising initiative can be found on the Hope Village website. “Buy a brick, build a home” allows the public to contribute to the cause by buying a brick, or a few, and having their name engraved. These bricks will be used in the walkways of the Hope Village Homes so the contributions will be forever remembered.