Homeless count scheduled for Friday
By Samantha Jones
Carroll County is working with Northwest Arkansas Continuum of Care to end homelessness in Arkansas, and that starts with figuring out how many homeless people live in the area.
A Cup of Love Ministry and ECHO Clinic are partnering with Northwest Arkansas Continuum of Care to offer a count of the homeless at noon Friday, Jan. 24, at A Cup of Love, located at 4032 E. Van Buren in Eureka Springs.
Dr. Dan Bell of the ECHO Clinic said the count is being done all over Northwest Arkansas on that day, with the goal of eliminating homelessness by 2025.
"They were thinking about just Eureka," Bell said, "but we're going to try to include the rest of the county, too."
Why is it so important to figure out how many homeless people live in the community?
"You can't get a handle on what the problem is without knowing how many people we are dealing with," Bell said.
Bell said a survey will be passed out at the event to help organizers understand the circumstances that lead to homelessness. Anyone is welcome, Bell said, including those who are homeless, housing insecure, couch surfing, staying with friends or sleeping in their car.
"Once you know what the problem is," Bell said. "you have a better chance at solving it. This is an effort all over Northwest Arkansas. It's not just us."
According to its website, the mission of Northwest Arkansas Continuum of Care is to coordinate a community response to end homelessness in the area. Bell said he's excited to see Carroll County join that effort. In the long term, Bell said, he envisions Carroll County appointing a social worker to help those who find themselves homeless.
"The community social worker becomes the housing social worker for the homeless," Bell said, "so we can hook [the homeless] up with that social worker who knows what to do next."
Pattie Jarrett, co-founder of A Cup of Love Ministry, said there will be food available during the event for anyone who is hungry. From working with those in need, Jarrett said, she's seen the problems in Carroll County firsthand.
"Being out on the street and serving people, I saw more of a need than I thought there really was," Jarrett said. "For people to come in and actually see that … it's going to be huge for our community."
Bell encouraged the community to get involved with the initiative.
"People need to stand up and be counted. I don't think we're ever going to get programs in place to help them," Bell said, "if we don't know who is out there. You've got to start somewhere and give it a try."