Study to Address Issue of Homelessness in Region 8

January 24, 2006 – Posted at 8:06 p.m. CST

JONESBORO , AR -- It's estimated by the National Alliance to End Homelessness that there are around 3.5 million people who are homeless. Families with children, single adults, the elderly and teenagers of all races struggle with the devastating effects of homelessness.

The Northeast Arkansas Continuum of Care coordinated forces to study Region 8's homeless...they hit the streets Tuesday in an effort to guage just how bad the problem is here at home.

"When you have shelter, and you have a place to go it means more than anything. My thing is to help somebody that cannot help themselves," said volunteer Bryan Carter.

It may not be easy to find the homeless in Region 8, but it doesn't mean that it's a problem that doesn't exist.

"What we are trying to do through this survey to just what degree homelessness is a problem in Jonesboro and if that problem is great, then what areas of concern to we need to assist these people," said City of Jonesboro Grant Coordinator Gayle Vickers.

Volunteer crews hit the streets of Jonesboro Tuesday night, hoping to gather information for the first homeless census in Northeast Arkansas.

"Our goal through the Northeast Arkansas continuum is to take a homeless person from on the street, get them housing, get them the help that they require...all the way through the employment and home ownership," said Vickers.

Carter said, "A lot of time we focus on people outside the United States , but if we look at things there are a lot of people right here in Jonesboro , Arkansas that are homeless and really need help."

"Maybe somebody might have a drug charge or something. They probably can't get HUD because they have a drug charge. Everybody messes up," said Demetrius Flowers, who stays on Washington Street.

And regardless of why a person is homeless, there are places available for help.

"The services that we deal with help them as far as getting employment help them as far as getting the help they require financially, assisting them health wise," said Vickers.

Surveys are also being conducted in Greene, Clay, Poinsett, Lawrence and Mississippi counties.