story by Aric Mitchell
The Riverview Hope Campus failed to obtain a $500,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, according to Ken Pyle, vice-president of the Old Fort Homeless Coalition (OFHC), who addressed the group at its monthly meeting on Friday (July 20).
The OFHC was depending on the grant funding to purchase the property at 301 South E Street by Sept. 30, 2012.
Pyle said the OFHC will ask Riverside Furniture, current owners of the plant, to allow an extension on the letter of intent for another nine to 12 months.
“We submitted our grant with a lot of visioning and intention statements, but we didn’t have some pieces in place that would have made them (FHLB of Dallas) a lot more comfortable that we actually had our act together,” Pyle said.
Among the missing pieces in the grant application package were operating agreements between OFHC, Next Step Day Room (NSDR), and NSDR’s Safe Haven Project. (Safe Haven provides care to homeless persons suffering from mental illness.)
Also missing was a survey of the proposed Hope Campus site designed to “get us all legal with regard to boundaries, property lines, and easements, and those kind of things,” Pyle said.
The survey is expected to be finalized by mid-August.
The OFHC will resubmit its application for the $500,000 grant “next spring,” Pyle said, adding that deadlines are “around the same time each year,” with the 2012 deadline occurring on April 2.
“We’ll be in much better shape if we continue to work on it through our Ad Hoc Committee,” Pyle said.
Plans for the campus picked up steam in January 2012 following a report from independent consultant Dr. Robert Marbut, which recommended the various Fort Smith agencies that serve the homeless population, to consolidate to one location.
At that time, the expected cost of such a campus was $3 million, but that number has since eased down to an estimated $2.282 million as of April 2012.
“What I’ve learned from my time in federal government is that nothing is ever dead. It’s just delayed until the next legislative session. We didn’t succeed this year with the Home Loan Bank, but there’s always the next year. I think it was a good effort to put it together. Working the deadlines helped focus our efforts. We learned a lot about the process, and we certainly received a very positive response from the staff there at the Home Loan Bank. They gave it every possibility to be awarded, but in the end there just wasn’t enough there. It throws our timeline off a little bit, but that’s where we’re at,” Pyle said.
The next meeting of the OFHC will take place Aug. 17, 2012.