About 16 years ago, Tabitha Rice fell in with the wrong crowd. Born and raised in Fort Smith, Rice started using methamphetamine. Before long, she was homeless.
Today she has recovered and she was interviewed by a film crew making a documentary in Fort Smith. The Riverview Hope Campus in Fort Smith was the setting for the documentary film on homelessness.
Robert Craig Films arrived Monday where the scene was set. Women who have found a way out of homelessness have been the focus of a feature film. Crews have stopped at cities across the United States for the film. The number of homeless women in Fort Smith has been on the uptick this year.
Rice told her story for the documentary and how she became homeless.
"Primarily it was drugs," she said about how she ended up homeless at one time in her life.
"I got in with the wrong crowd. I was told not to hang out with them and I did it anyway," Rice said. "One thing led to another and I'm using IV methamphetamine and living couch to couch."
Hope Campus helped her recover, and today is the director of residential services for Gateway Recovery Center For Women - Harbor House. This year, inflation has taken a toll on people who lived on the cusp of homelessness as people have not been able to afford their rent. Food prices have not helped those struggling, said Sharon Chapman at the Next Step day shelter in downtown Fort Smith.
Robert Marbut Jr., from San Antonio, Texas, is the executive producer of Robert Craig Films.
He explained that "Americans with No Address" is the title of the documentary in the works. Crews are learning much about homelessness in all shapes and forms, Marbut said.
Marbut and Craig spent the day in Fort Smith Monday, Nov. 7. Marbut offered his impressions from the Fort Smith filming and the visit after the tour arrived in Virginia.
"One takeaway is that rural America is having problems with homelessness very similar to urban areas. Number two is that Hope Campus is really a perfect program for your size (Fort Smith) it is really doing a lot to address homelessness," Marbut said.He said there were camps living along the Arkansas River for miles before Hope Campus opened. He praised Chris Joannides, CEO of Riverview Hope Campus.
"Chris is an amazing manager who is a CEO who also has a case management background. He not only runs the place but he understands the clinical nature of what Hope campus does.
The crew visited Nashville and Chicago before making a stop in Winchester, Virginia. More people who are homeless from rural areas move toward urban areas. He said he found that homeless in Fort Smith are from across western Arkansas and the River Valley.
In Winchester, he said he visited a small campus for the homeless before going to Baltimore, Maryland. A target date for the feature film "No Address" would be the holiday season in 2023 and the documentary to be released.