Survey Says Homelessness Real in Region 8

January 25, 2005 – Posted at 7:09 p.m. CST
SEARCY -- You may not see homeless individuals everyday in Northeast Arkansas but that doesn't mean that they don’t exist. Several agencies offer assistance to those in need but in order to do so they have to know where the people are.
“A year before I came here I never dreamed that I’d be without a job or a family,” said Terry King, who used to be homeless.
Forty-one-year-old King has a story like so many others. He made a few wrong turns on the treacherous road of life, and alcoholism became his crutch.
“I woke up and realized that I lost an 18 year marriage and my whole life,” said King.
But with a little bit of will power and the staff at the Wilbur D. Mills Substance Abuse Treatment Center, he and many others are changing their lives.
“It's just a real nice place to come to if you've got problems with living life on lives terms,” said Larry Turner, a recovering drug addict, “I've learned that I can't give up on myself and that I have to live each day as it comes.”
These success stories come with a price; a price that's calculated every year. One of the tools used in this assessment is a survey. Last year 932 homeless people responded to the survey, which gave organizations the data they need to survive.
“If we can't do this part, we can't expect our lawmakers to help us with funding,” said Regional Homeless Coordinator Lisa Powell.
The survey is being conducted in the 19 counties again, as loads of people come to wait in line for a free hot lunch. The lines get longer and longer every year.
“More and more places that provide these homeless services are running out of money,” said Powell.
Shelters and service providers plan to count the homeless population all day Thursday.
The guidelines from the Federal Housing and Urban Development Department also ask communities to count people in soup kitchens and outreach centers, as well as in parks and on city streets.