In December 2003, a ‘Shantytown’ had developed outside Poverello House gates on F and Santa Clara Streets. Poverello House staff, business owners, Fresno Police, community activists and the homeless themselves realized that many illegal activities associated with this area had become a severe problem. While City officials and Poverello House were discussing possible solutions, a group of homeless individuals held meetings and made decisions of their own – to create a supportive community of Fresno’s homeless. The collaboration between these two groups led to the Michael McGarvin Jr. Village of Hope in February 2004.
The Village is a unique community of individuals whose commonality is not only found in the circumstance of homelessness, but in their belief in three simple basic rules:
- Take care of yourself.
- Take care of others.
- Take care of this place.
With these basic rules of conduct, this community is self governed and largely self supporting with oversight provided by Poverello House staff. The Village believes that it has a role in the wider Fresno community, part of chores assigned to residents includes clean up of surrounding businesses and other areas. The Village residents perform odd jobs and recycle cans to raise funds for their special events, including donations to nonprofit organizations. In supporting one another, there have been many success stories. Residents have gone on to employment, scholastic achievement and permanent housing.
The Village of Hope can accommodate 66 individuals -- single men and women only. The Village is open for operation Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m., and on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from Noon to 9 a.m.
During weekly meetings, all prospective Village residents must meet certain criteria, including performing community service within the Village. Once that has been accomplished, they may be accepted by majority vote of the current residents. These meetings are held every Tuesday and Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.