Arkansas First Lady to Sample Homeless Life

SEPTEMBER 13, 2006 - Posted at 7:39 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Arkansas first lady Janet Huckabee is temporarily trading a bed in the Governor's Mansion for a blanket underneath a downtown Little Rock bridge.

For the second year in a row, Huckabee will join homeless service providers and advocates for a "sleep-out" intended to educate the public about life in the streets.

The first lady will join between 25 to 50 people Friday night participating in the event, now in its third year and organized by homeless advocates who were at the time critical of what they saw as the city's crackdown on homelessness.

The Washington-based National Coalition for the Homeless in 2004 described the city as the "meanest" toward the homeless because of policies, including plans to remove homeless people from camps along the banks of the Arkansas River.

This year, the group ranked Little Rock better than only Sarasota, Florida, and Lawrence, Kansas, in its list of the nation's 20 worst cities for treating the homeless in 2005.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)