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Roadmap released for new central Arkansas ‘community village’

Mobile Loaves & Fishes
A map outlines the Community First! Village outside of Austin, Texas, upon which a similar development in Pulaski County will be based.

Pulaski County officials are moving ahead with plans to build a new affordable housing development.

The county has released a roadmap for preparations to construct a new “community village,” a master-planned neighborhood of small cottages for residents who’ve been experiencing chronic homelessness.

Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde tells KUAR News one of the first steps is to identify a nonprofit which will run the day-to-day operations.

“I think we’ll see some folks who will probably bring some startups to the table, it’ll be some fresh input,” Hyde said. “I think that there’s several nonprofits in our region that have shown interest in being involved.”

The village is modeled after a similar project, called the Community First! Village, near Austin, Texas. Hyde says the 150-acre site on Green Road in the southwestern part of the county will eventually house as many as 400 people, along with various services.

“There’s an entrepreneur hub that will be located on the property. There’ll be health services offered on-site, there’ll be legal services offered on-site, all those wrap-around services that we talk about proportional to what the size is at the time will be available on-site to our residents, as well as transportation opportunities, help with job placement,” Hyde said.

County officials are now forming an advisory committee which will oversee the process of selecting a nonprofit to run the development. Hyde says, after a year of planning, he’s eager to begin construction in the next few months.

“I am excited. When you run across such a great model that’s been so successful, and you’re as confident as I am in the community we live in that they’re going to accept this and they’re going to help it grow and help make it successful, and this is going to be a real benefit.

“It’s a lot of pressure not to mess that up.”

Hyde says the goal is to begin accepting residents by the end of the year.

Daniel Breen is a Little Rock-based reporter, anchor and producer for KUAR.