The Fort Smith Board of Directors will discuss Tuesday the homeless services provided by Next Step Day Room in downtown Fort Smith.
Next Step, a nonprofit homeless shelter and day room in downtown Fort Smith, has used Community Block Development Grant funds for transitional housing since 2005. The nonprofit built its third transitional home in Fort Smith earlier this month.
The board approved the nonprofit in April for a CBDG grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development despite concerns that the organization should have applied under a different category. Next Step has used CDBG funds for transitional housing since 2005, according to Sharon Chapman, president of Next Step's Board of Directors.
Ward 1 Director Keith Lau said at an April 3 city board meeting that the mission of Next Step is not in line with the redevelopment of the riverfront and downtown Fort Smith.
"I guess the question is, would you guys consider relocating your services not even necessarily to the Hope Campus to another area that is not on 16B in that corridor?” Lau said at the meeting.
"Our mission is to help the homeless, and the homeless are located downtown," Next Step Executive Director Kim Wohlford said, though she also said relocation is a possibility in the future.
Lau said he wanted a compromise between relocating and moving to a location where homeless people don't live. Wohlford pointed out that there are not as many homeless on the streets of Downtown because of Next Step.
The study session will be held at noon on June 26 in the Fort Smith Public Library.