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Better Community Development, Inc.

 

BCD
Rebuilding Lives. 
Restoring Communities.

In 1967, outreach initiatives led to the establishment of Black Community Developers, Inc., a non-profit community and faith-based organization serving low-income, underserved, disadvantaged and at-risk youth, children and families.

In 1992, with initial funding from the Robert Wood Johnson foundation, Rev. Dr. Robinson forged an alliance with the City of Little Rock to form the Fighting Back Initiative. The program has evolved into the Neighborhood Support Center, which is now funded in part by a city half-cent tax and through state, federal and private support.

The Neighborhood Support Center encompasses the Hoover Treatment Center, which provides out-patient services and residential treatment for up to 58 people with substance abuse problems. Additional Support Center provisions include a homeless shelter, an HIV/AIDS ministry and a gang intervention program. 

To provide continued support to former Hoover Treatment Center patients, Black Community Developers has set up transitional “chemical-free” housing in five formerly vacant buildings located near the church. For a small rental fee, up to 24 spaces are available to individuals who have found employment.

Residents have 24-hour care and continue to receive intensive case management and financial counseling, to facilitate moving into their own homes. They are permitted to stay indefinitely, provided they stay sober and work toward transitioning out. About 70 percent of residents accomplish these goals.



Offering treatment as an alternative to incarceration the Hoover Treatment Center is also linked to Rev. Dr. Robinson’s prison ministry. He receives an estimated 20 calls each day from families needing help with court cases involving substance abuse, domestic violence, and license suspension. 

Whenever possible, Rev. Dr. Robinson recommends treatment as an alternative to sentencing. The Center also provides treatment for prisoners who are being released. Rev. Robinson’s integrity and commitment are deciding factors in substituting treatment for prison time and easing re-entry from prison for approximately 200 Little Rock residents every year. 


Providing ex-offenders a hopeful future 
BCD also assists former prisoners and other underserved populations by participating in the North Carolina-based Jobs for Life program. Participants primarily come from the Neighborhood Support Center and are usually returning to the workforce after battling drug addiction or recently leaving prison. 

Two 10-week job-training sessions have been offered annually since the program’s inception in 2001. Approximately seven in 10 graduates are still employed after one year. Graduates primarily receive jobs paying the minimum wage in service industries that usually do not offer benefits. However, considering that BCD’s Jobs for Life participants are among the hardest to serve, this success is notable.

In 2004, BCD founded Will’s House, a transitional housing facility for formerly incarcerated men. Key supporters include Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas and the Arkansas Supportive Housing Network. Sixteen residents receive counseling and employment assistance to prepare them for life outside of the facility. 


Opening the door to home ownership 
BCD’s Affordable Housing Program provides monthly homebuyer education counseling, loan application assistance and help in reducing principal and down payment costs. Instructors are volunteers from four area banks who also review the curriculum as needed. 

BCD is simultaneously building affordable housing for low-to-moderate income families. In addition, the program is certified by the Arkansas Development Finance Authority to provide counseling to people who want to earn a certificate in homebuyer education to be eligible for state grants to assist with home buying costs. 

To date, approximately 70 people have completed the homebuyer education program. Twenty-two participants have purchased homes built through Black Community Developers, while 5 families are awaiting homes that are currently under construction.


Enhancing programs through strategic alliances 
Through the vision of Rev. Dr. Robinson and the steadfast 31 staff members of Black Community Developers, Theressa Hoover United Methodist Church has continuously expanded services to the citizens of Little Rock. Key strategies include partnerships with other churches and government agencies that contribute to and maximize the ministry’s $1.1-million budget. Rev. Robinson recommends developing small, long-standing groups that tackle one problem at a time. By the same token, he teaches those he serves to "deal with life on life’s terms on a daily basis." 

Today, BCD has expanded its reach and vision to include even more important challenges facing the City. Its latest expansion the Empowerment Center will house a state-licensed treatment program, as well as provide a beautifully revitalized facility for career training, life skills training, technology training, and a focus on environmental issues and the green movement right in the heart of the same neighborhood where the BCD was created.

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