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Arkansas' homeless population increased by just over 9 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to a federal report presented to Congress on Monday.

In 2017, there were 2,467 homeless people counted in the report, or about eight of every 10,000 people living in the state. This year's Homeless Assessment Report to Congress counted 2,712 homeless people in the state, or about nine of every 10,000 residents.

In contrast, Arkansas' homeless population increased by less than 1 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the 2017 report.

"It's just unbelievable right now," Arkansas Homeless Coalition president Sandra Wilson said of the increase in homelessness she's seen in recent weeks. The coalition is a group of service providers, volunteers and residents who advocate for the homeless.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development's annual report to Congress, 53 percent of Arkansas' homeless population were not staying in shelters.

Arkansas is one of 10 states where more than half of the homeless population is unsheltered.

The annual report is derived from one-night censuses of the homeless, called point-in-time counts. The next counts in Arkansas will occur in late January.

Little Rock also had one of the highest rates of family homelessness for cities close to its size in the country at 131 people, the report said. Fayetteville, N.C., had 230 people in homeless families and Pasadena, Calif., had 104.

Arkansas overall has 432 homeless people in families with children. Of the remaining 2,280 homeless individuals in Arkansas, 240 are unaccompanied homeless youth, according to the report.

Wilson said in an interview Friday that she's had more calls in recent weeks to place families with young children in housing.

"We have a situation right now that we haven't seen before," she said. "We haven't seen this type of population and these numbers that we're seeing right now."

Arkansas was one of only five states where homelessness among veterans has increased since 2009, according to the report. Arkansas' homeless veteran population was 251.

The other states with increases were Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Hawaii.

Last week, the city of Little Rock announced that it had "effectively ended" veteran homelessness. Earlier this year, Mayor Mark Stodola announced that the city had brought veteran homelessness to functional zero, which means that service providers are aware of who is homeless and can house them quickly.

Homelessness across the nation increased for the second year in a row. The number between 2017 and 2018 increased by 0.3 percent, to about 553,000. Most of the unsheltered homeless are living in the country's 50 largest cities, according to the report.

Metro on 12/18/2018

Print Headline: Arkansas' homeless population jumps 9 percent, national report says

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Archived Comments

  • RBear
    December 18, 2018 at 6:13 a.m.

    "Last week, the city of Little Rock announced that it had "effectively ended" veteran homelessness." Yet, the report shows veteran homelessness increased by 9 percent. This is a prime example of the window dressing Little Rock has experienced with issues over the years. Hopefully, that window dressing will end with Mayor-elect Scott and Little Rock can adequately address homelessness.
    ...
    One approach would be to establish a location, possibly Our House, where a one-stop shop could be set up to help the homeless get connected with the various services and needs they have to regain housing and employment. That was one of the best ideas put forth at Haven for Hope in San Antonio. I've heard too many cases where a homeless person has to find transportation to various locations to reacquire an identity card, find housing, find childcare, find meal subsidies, find healthcare, etc. The homeless person spends more time finding, leaving very little time to actually get training or work.
    ...
    If we really want the homeless to rejoin society, we shouldn't create a gauntlet for them to do so. We should be working to help them reestablish themselves as easily and quickly as possible.

  • Skeptic1
    December 18, 2018 at 7:50 a.m.

    With another feckless Democrat mayor don't expect these numbers or the crime rate to go down.

  • Foghorn
    December 18, 2018 at 8:41 a.m.

    I hope someone follows up with Scott to get his thoughts - and more importantly - his plan on how he’s going to address this issue.

  • Popsmith
    December 18, 2018 at 8:47 a.m.

    There will always be homeless people, as long as some people prefer their freedom over their responsibilities.

  • RBear
    December 18, 2018 at 9:02 a.m.

    Skeptic name a Republican mayor who has curbed homelessness. You couldn't name one from a major city the other day who has curbed crime. You are just an old troll who doesn't really have anything to contribute other than baseless attacks.

  • GeneralMac
    December 18, 2018 at 9:48 a.m.

    drugs, alcohol, and mental illness are the three major reasons for homeless people in the streets.

    The first two mentioned are CHOICES of lifestyle and the third mentioned is a result of closing mental institutions .

  • Bullgod1984
    December 18, 2018 at 9:48 a.m.

    Rbear, mayor Richard Berry of Albuquerque lowered homelessness in his city. Try again

  • GeneralMac
    December 18, 2018 at 9:49 a.m.

    POPSNITH at 8:47........

    BINGO !

  • RBear
    December 18, 2018 at 10:13 a.m.

    BG very familiar with Berry’s programs, but they provided help for the homeless, not lower it. There is a difference. Lowering it means these people found housing and there is no data on that in ABQ. I know of several mayors you would call Democratic who lowered homelessness, but it’s a tough challenge to keep track of since the ability to conduct a census is tough.

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