The Battle Is On!
Join the fight against deep poverty and homelessness in San Angelo.
If you are not angry, then you are not paying attention!
The Ecclesia is Rising!
We must learn new ways of shaping the world together.
What Is It?
Deep poverty is living on less than $6,000 a year, or raising a child alone on roughly $7,600. More than 5,000 adults and children in San Angelo get by on that or less each year. But focusing solely on income obscures the real and complex picture of the poorest of the poor.
A Complex Problem
They live in deep and persistent poverty which is a chronic state characterized by multiple, serious challenges that can include addiction, disabilities, chronic illness like asthma or homelessness. All of these can stand in the way of their being able to hold down a job. And it’s a place where they can get stuck, generation after generation, where their is no safety net to move them up and out. They are the most difficult group to reach and there are no easy solutions. They also are not the focus of major antipoverty efforts.
Three-quarters of deeply poor adults in San Angelo have not worked in the past year. Their obstacles to work are complex and feed into one another: unstable housing, unreliable child care, lack of education, criminal records, or mental and physical health problems that aren’t severe enough to qualify for disability benefits but that can limit steady work.
In 2017, more than 500 people will experience an episode of homelessness, including people with mental and physical disabilities, substance abuse problems, unemployment, lack of affordable housing, and domestic violence. People experiencing an episode of homelessness can be divided into three distinct segments: able; unable; and resistive.
The ‘able’ homeless are temporarily without a home and need things like rapid rehousing to get back on their feet. The City of San Angelo does not have an adequate stock of low-income affordable housing. In 2017, San Angelo needs an additional 5000 affordable low-income housing units. But who’s going to build them and where?
The ‘unable’ are the chronic homeless (includes sheltered/unsheltered singles, couples and children living in deep poverty) who often suffer mental illness or other ailments. These are people who have already experienced a high degree of instability and need permanent supportive housing linked to intensive services in a cooperative co-living environment.
The ‘resistant’ have likely been on the streets longer and don’t want help but will take the clothes off your back and the food out of your mouth if you let them. This may sound harsh but these are the poele who “work the system” and are happy to do so as long as there is no personal accountability. The best way to help them begins with relationship building.
On any given day in San Angelo, there are over 5000 people living in deep and persiatant poverty. They are the ones who are the most vulnerable, the most powerless, the most voiceless and those excluded by society.
Roughly 35% of people living in deep and persistent poverty are able to recover and regain stable housing with temporary assistance from friends, family or social services. People in this group are typically experiencing a short-term financial crisis – lost a job or recently divorced, for example – but are able to attain sufficient resources and , with assistance, can re-establish their financial viability within about 12-18 months. They can best be serviced through rental assistance, utility payments and basic needs in the short term.
The biggest group of people living in deep and persistent poverty ( about 55%) will require supportive services at a variable length of time at different intervals, but will likely be long-term, if not lifelong. These are people who have histories of mental illness and substance abuse and/or physical disabilities who are willing and capable of participating in treatment and who, if afforded supportive services related to employment and housing, can maintain both. They will remain more stable if at least case management is maintained.
The final 10% of those living in deep and persistent poverty will require extensive services for the rest of their lives, even after they are housed. This group is composed of individuals who are seriously compromised by severe mental illness, intractible substance abuse, physical disabilities or mental retardation and typically have been instritutionalized at some point in their lives. Services to this group must be lifelong and highly structured.
San Angelo’s safety-net system has proven powerless
Daily struggles and impoverished living conditions of our neighbors are rooted in our collective inability to address their needs. For individuals with mental health or substance abuse issues, for people leaving prisons and jails, and for teenagers exiting the child welfare system – emotional fragility, lack of assets, poor social skills, or traumatic past histories undermine their well-being and ability to move forward in their lives. Combining these with poverty and isolation creates an almost insurmountable challenge.
Run by some of the city’s most respected nonprofit providers, San Angelo’s provides clients with a wealth of support services: medical health care, mental health care, employment training, childcare, substance abuse treatment, GED preparation, and – most importantly – help accessing San Angelo’s scarce supply of subsidized and supportive housing. And yet, despite all these impressive resources, care and expertise, San Angelo’s safety-net system has proven powerless in eliminating homeless and reducing material poverty that abounds in San Angelo..
When we talked with the people living in the tent city, most reported having one or several mental heath challenges including anxiety disorders, panic attacks, ADHD, PTSD, and chronic depression. Most of them self-medicate with methamphetamines to numb their psychological and emotional pain..
Like us all, people in the midst of homelessness are not always completely honest with themselves or with others. And even after a sound diagnosis is made, it may take years to help people to overcome their problems. There will likely be lots of ups and downs in the relationship. It all sounds very time-consuming, and it is.
The individuals who will live in ARK homes are those suffering from deep and persistent poverty. They represent a segment of our population who are the “unable,” as defined above.
The home shown below is a model designed by Minim Micro Homes. Our final designs will be based on this model but with fewer high-class amenities, more living area, and will cost about 50% less to build. The minimum living space in a home in San Angelo includes 120 sq. ft. of general living space (living room) plus 70 sq.ft. of living space per person (bedrooms). The kitchen and bathroom spaces are not included in those measurements.
Housing meets standards for safety and quality established by local, state, and federal laws and regulations. ARKcentric homes are 1 bedroom and 1 bath for 1 person (320 sq. ft.), 1 bedroom and 1 bath for 2 persons (448 sq. ft.), 2 bedrooms and 1 bath for 2 adults and 1 child (640 sq. ft.) and 3 bedrooms and 1 bath for up to 2 adults and 4 children (760 sq. ft.) single detached homes.
All homes are pier and beam construction and are NOT classified as mobile homes nor manufactured homes.
Each home will be constructed so as to leave the least intrusive environmental impact, including:
- Composting Toilets (outside city limits only)
- Grey Water collection (shower and sinks) routed to a filtering/reuse system for landscape watering
- LED electrical lighting fixtures throughout the home
- Efficient use and placement of skylights and ceiling fans
- Ductless wall-mount combination heating and air conditioning system
- On-demand electric water heater with a filtered water system to increase life of the unit
- Rainwater collection system for landscape watering
- No in-sink garbage disposal units (food wastes will be collected and composted)
- Energy Star compliant appliances (stove, microwave oven, coffee pot, and refrigerator)
Managing and maintaining the property will be the responsibility of all residents. A House and Grounds Committee will oversee all work scheduling and activities on the property. The committee will consist of at least two residents. Scheduled lawn care and landscape maintenance will also include a quick walk-through of the house to check for water leaks and potential lease violations. We will provide 24-hour notification of our intent to enter the premises.
We check each applicant’s rental history, criminal history, and income, although none of these will prevent an applicant from leasing one of our houses. The only exception is a felony conviction for child molestation or rape. We ask for and verify this information so that we know who is residing in the community at all times. Although past behavior is not always an indicator of future behavior, we must be cognizant of all potential problem residents and offer support and services to those in need.
We will have maintenance on-call 24 hours a day for emergencies. If there is an issue our team can’t handle, we have established relationships with multiple contractors who do a great job for a fair price.
Resident Safety and Security
Programs don’t just spring up magically where they’re needed. ARKcentric is a caring community leader and will assist our residents in making safety and security a reality. In addition to the Neighborhood Watch Program and two Move In Orientations, we will help our residents by marshaling resources and mobilizing support whenever they see a need requiring additional safety measures within the community. The protection, health, safety, and growth of our residents is why we exist.
We will build one community at a time. A community will have 14 small homes (from 320 sq. ft. to 760 sq. ft. footprints) and a community center. A community includes permanent supportive housing rental units with home ownership options on one acre of land (the size of a football field). Our hope is to purchase the land within San Angelo city limits but that may not be possible with all of the city’s zoning requirements and lack of available land. If we have to look further out into the county, we will try to locate land where we may still have access to city water and sewer services. A community will have the following core features:
We will permanently house our most vulnerable, at-risk, and chronically homeless individuals and families already living in San Angelo.
All residents will have a voice in shaping how the community is operated and managed through a democratic process.
A community will become financially self-sustaining within 5 to 7 years by charging residents $1.15 per square foot but never more than 25% of their monthly income. Our wealth building programs will ensure every work capable resident will have ample opportunity for steady, full-time employment.