Goals

Annually move 10 work-able families completely out of poverty.

Annually provide affordable permanent supportive housing for four families living on poverty level permanent disability incomes.

Our goals will be accomplished through a combined process of

  • building and managing affordable permanent supportive housing communities (neighborhoods)
  • providing case management within a comprehensive city-wide system of care for addictions and disabilities
  • implementing a healthy foods program for growing, preparing and eating healthy foods
  • implementing a wealth building program that leads to prosperity that is specifically designed for each individual or family
  • aiding in reconciling broken family relationships
  • providing education and counseling to overcome other barriers that prevent them from thriving
  • raising awareness in the community of barriers faced by homeless and at-risk of homelessness people living in deep poverty

Target Population

Families and individuals who are experiencing chronic homelessness and deep poverty in San Angelo and who are motivated to leave poverty.

A Whole Community Solution

A Whole Community Solution

ARKcentric is building a platform which creates everyday opportunities for ordinary citizens of San Angelo to perform acts of random kindness which will bring real relief and life-changing restoration to hundreds of people living in deep poverty and homelessness. It is difficult to build functional structures with rigid policies that help people thrive over long periods of time. Instead, we are creating opportunities albeit organized and structured to accomplish two major objectives:

  1. Empowering people living in deep poverty and homelessness to envision a new future for themselves, to aim for the highest good they can be, and providing the resources they need to work towards their own vision of a thriving life.
  2. Introducing opportunities where the average and ordinary citizens, churches, businesses, and social organizations of San Angelo can be a part of something larger than themselves, believing in a community where everyone benefits from everyone’s acts of random kindness directed towards people living in deep poverty and homelessness.
ARKcentric Community Housing

ARKcentric Community Housing

The ARK Community Housing program will build 16 homes, one home at a time. Each home will have a fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, sleeping and living area. The maximum rent any family or individual will ever pay is $1.15/square foot/month. The community will be built on one acre of land with 14 homes, a community center and two additional homes for our peer specialists where they will live rent-free and provide round the clock support and coaching.

ARK homes are all single-family detached homes:

  • 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.).

The ARK Community Housing program is based on the concept of cohousing – a radical community of inclusion and compassion. Residents share space and time with each other which is why there is also a common house and shared green space.

The common house includes a small commercial kitchen and dining/meeting area for community meals as well as a laundry and food pantry. It is the “living room” of the community – where residents are invited to participate in Bible studies, movie nights, book clubs, and so much more.

Shared green space includes parking, walkways, open space, and gardens – great for a little exercise and socializing. The community is planned so that cars are kept to the periphery which promotes interacting with neighbors and increases safety for playing children.

Households have independent incomes and private lives, but collaboratively plan and manage community activities and shared spaces. Activities feature regularly-scheduled shared meals, meetings, and workdays. Residents may also gather for parties, games, movies, or other events. Cohousing makes it easy to form support groups, organize child and elder care, and carpool.

The Power of Community

  • Residents provide social support to other residents in a safe and stable environment.
  • Residents participating in meaningful work create positive social networks and opportunities for support.
  • Residents are respected as adults to make their own decisions and organize their own schedules.
  • Residents create their own social conditions needed for recovery and stabilization: freedom, meaningful work, friendship and a feeling of belonging- terms and ideas that usually remain un-politicized.
  • Residents are allowed the freedom and space to find solutions to their own problems, reinvigorating and amplifying a sense of hope that empowers them to rise up and take back their lives.

 

Estimated Costs:      

Purchase Land:                         $50,000         1 acre of land
Construction:                           $374,703         16 homes and a community center

 

Affordable Permanent Supportive Housing

Affordable Permanent Supportive Housing

Data has shown for decades now that these goals are attained more easily in the safety of one’s own home. Providing affordable permanent supportive housing to 30 chronic homeless individuals and families pursues these goals.

The following defines our understanding and strategies for accomplishing these goals.

Affordable – rent is based on 25% of a household’s income but never more than $1.15 per square feet.

Permanent – gross violation of the lease is the only reason a household may be evicted. Loss of the household’s temporary ability to pay their rent will never be a reason for eviction.

Supportive – supportive services that will assist a chronic homeless person or family to adjust to their new life–even if it takes years. Which it probably will.

Housing – The homes will meet all standards for safety and quality established by local, state, and federal laws and regulations. All homes will be built on a permanent foundation with electric, water and sewer services. Target is to start with one community of 16 homes and a Common house built on 1 acre.

Each home will be constructed so as to leave the least intrusive environmental impact, including:

  • Grey Water collection (shower and sinks) rerouted to a filtered reuse system
  • 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 filtered water heater
  • Rainwater collection system integrated with grey water collection system
  • No in-sink garbage disposal units (food wastes will be collected and composted)
  • Each home will be equipped with an electric range, refrigerator, and microwave

ARKcentric’s housing first/permanent supportive housing model is designed for individuals or families who have complex service needs, who have often been turned away from other affordable housing settings, and/or who are least likely to be able to proactively seek, obtain, and maintain housing and employment on their own.

Through ARKcentric’s housing first/permanent supportive housing program, we will

  • remove all barriers to entry and all time limits on their length of stay if they honestly want to change and are willing to work towards that change,
  • offer a permanent single-family mini-house with a lease regardless of their initial temporary ability to pay rent,
  • create coop-businesses that offer supported employment,
  • make community supports and services available to them at their choosing, and
  • create a cohousing environment that promotes interdependent community living.

All of this will happen within a small cohousing community setting of 16 homes and a common house. Two Peer Specialists will live onsite and are responsible for the case management of the community residents.

System of Care

ARKcentric System of Care

The ARKcentric System of Care will be for a variable length of time at different intervals, but will likely be long-term, if not lifelong. Residents who are willing to participate, are capable of participating in treatment and who, if afforded supportive services, can maintain both employment and housing. Residents may be able to leave components of the system of care for a period of time, but will remain more stable if the least intrusive case management is maintained. Participant’s resources and competencies will be enhanced or supported at a level that enables them to maintain and sustain permanent, safe and secure housing, employment, and initiate a wealth building strategy with no time limits or restrictions.

Assertive Community Treatment

We encourage participants to define their own needs and goals and, if the participant so wishes, immediately provide a home of the participants ’ own without any prerequisites for psychiatric treatment or sobriety. In addition to a home, participants are offered treatment, support, and other services by the program’s Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team. ACT is a well defined community based interdisciplinary team of professionals that includes social workers, nurse practitioners, psychiatrists, and vocational counselors and substance abuse counselors who are available to assist participants 7 days a week 24 hours a day.

ACT programs that combine a participant-driven philosophy with integrated dual diagnosis treatment based on a harm-reduction approach positively affect residential stability and do not increase substance use or psychiatric symptoms. Although housing and treatment are closely linked, they are considered separate domains, and participants in the program may accept housing and refuse clinical services altogether without consequences for their housing status.

Harm-Reduction Approach

Consistent with the principles of participants choice, we will use a harm-reduction approach to address alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and psychiatric symptoms or crises. At its core, harm reduction is a pragmatic approach that aims to reduce the adverse consequences of drug abuse and psychiatric symptoms. It recognizes that participants can be at different stages of recovery and that effective interventions should be individually tailored to each participant’s stage. Participants are allowed to make choices—to use alcohol or not, to take medication or not—and regardless of their choices they are not treated adversely, their housing status is not threatened, and help continues to be available to them.
Many systems of care supportive housing programs subscribe to the abstinence–sobriety model based on the belief that without strict adherence to treatment and sobriety, housing stability is not possible. But studies examining the model’s effectiveness report only modest results in achieving housing stability for individuals who are chronically homeless and mentally ill. Alternatively, the approach we use assumes that if individuals with psychiatric symptoms can survive on the streets then they can manage their own living situations in a healthy, safe, and affordable home. The program posits that providing a person with housing first creates a foundation on which the process of recovery can begin. Having a place of one’s own may—in and of itself—serve as a motivator for participants to refrain from drug and alcohol abuse.

Estimated Costs: $0 Services will be provided by existing support/service agencies and volunteer peer specialists will provide long-term case management.

Eating Healthy

ARKcentric Healthy Foods

The ARKcentric Healthy Foods program includes installing and maintaining a co-op aquaponics farming system that will provide a protein crop (fish) and a vegetable, herb, and fruit crop (plants) for the community. Excess crops will be evenly distributed between neighborhoods experiencing food insecurity and sold commercially to generate the revenue needed to pay the co-op workers. Each aquaponics farming system will produce 11,500 leafy green plants/year (about 70 leafy green plants/day) and 1,350 lbs. whole tilapia/year (harvest just over 168 lbs./every 6 weeks). We will also implement ARKcentric Healthy Kitchens to educate communities as to how to prepare healthy meals using the fish and produce they grow.

 

Estimated Costs: Aquaponics System – $50,000

Wealth Building

ARKcentric Wealth Building

Co-op Businesses

The ARKcentric Wealth Building program will create new employee-owned businesses and other employment opportunities for participants who have multiple, serious challenges that can include lack of education, criminal records, and mental and physical health problems that aren’t severe enough to qualify for disability benefits but that can limit steady work.

Business is a recognized institution in society that brings credibility to relationships with the community as a whole. Thus business brings opportunities to influence and disciple the wider society through the relationships it brings. The individual worker becomes ‘salt and light’ to the community through the marketplace.

Proposed co-op businesses:

  • Commercial Aquaponics Farms
  • Manufacturing/Sales – wood furniture and accessories
  • Mesquite Wood Harvesting and Sales
  • Building Deconstruction – Reclaim-Reuse-Rebuild
  • Co-op Grocery Store
  • Restaurant and Cafe
  • Janitorial Services (Patriotic Hearts’ Military Maintenance program)
  • Commercial Composting

Estimated Costs: We will seek community investors for each co-op business.

Financial Capability Services

Financial capability services are services open to all residents, generally focused on supporting residents to achieve housing stability, increase personal assets and access community resources through the following training and counseling:

  • Money Management
    • Financial Education
    • Financial Counseling
    • Financial Coaching
    • Asset Ownership Programs
  • Income Supports
    • Free Tax Preparation Services
    • Access to Federal and State Benefits
  • Credit and Debit
    • Credit Counseling
    • Credit Building
  • Financial Products and Services
    • Access to Safe and Affordable Financial Products
    • Incentivized Savings Programs
    • Credit Building
  • Savings and Investments
    • Incentivized Savings Programs
    • Asset Ownership Programs
  • Consumer Protection and Insurance
    • Access to Safe and Affordable Financial Products