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FORT SMITH -- The Fort Smith-based Riverview Hope Campus has been designated as the first EnVision Center in Arkansas by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

EnVision Centers use public-private partnerships to connect HUD-assisted households and individuals with services that offer paths to self-sufficiency, according to a HUD news release. They are described as "centralized hubs that serve as an incubator to support four key pillars of self-sufficiency." These pillars include economic empowerment, educational advancement, health and wellness, and character and leadership.

"EnVision Centers are a way to connect local resources with the people who need them the most," HUD Region VI Regional Administrator Michael Burley said in the release. "From job training classes to basic education to medical needs, vital services will be provided that will have a direct and positive impact on the lives of the people being helped. I look forward to seeing the brighter futures the EC will bring to the Fort Smith community."

The Hope Campus provides a safe and secure shelter for the Fort Smith area's homeless population, the release states. Using a campus-model approach, its purpose is to improve the lives of impoverished Crawford, Franklin, Logan, Polk, Sebastian and Scott county residents in the River Valley and strengthen the community by offering comprehensive services that help individuals be self-sufficient.

"Balance is something you create, not find," Hope Campus Executive Director Chris Joannides said. "Hope Campus is honored to carry the EnVision Center insignia to better the lives of the Fort Smith community."

The Hope Campus has partnered with several other agencies to provide comprehensive assistance for its EnVision Center, the release states. Among them are the Fort Smith Housing Authority, Mercy Clinic, Veterans' Outreach, St. Anne's Society, Salvation Army, the Fort Smith Adult Education Center and Legal Aid of Arkansas.

The Hope Campus has also implemented a mental health department equipped with a therapist, site coordinator, and program director, the release states. The department, which will work with the homeless population on mental health needs, is intended to address addiction, trauma, life skills and activities for daily living.

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