'There is no way to count the homeless in a day'
By Katherina-Marie Yancy
(KATV) - Aaron Reddin helps count the homeless every two-years. It is a one day process. He says, "There's no possible way to count the homeless in a day."
A homeless mother looks at her kids and says, "They always say mom I love you and kisses. They see you go through it, but make it a lot better." Is the face of homelessness changing? Organizations helping them say yes, there are more elderly, teens and families.
A count of the homeless population found 149 fewer people living on the streets and shelters. According to HUD, there are 2,762 homeless in the state, but shelters say the numbers don't represent today's homeless and they worry because it can affect their bottom line, getting grants and donations to help people get back on their feet.
The Compassion Center is the largest homeless shelter in Central Arkansas; they feed about 500 people daily and shelter as many as 250 people, an increase of about 14-percent this year.
The mom who a seeking shelter for her family doesn't want to be identified, her voice cracks, "Saving and funding ran out and it just got harder."
She lost her job and home when she became ill, but has young kids to support. "It's real difficult because they're not used to the situation. It's harder to know they're looking at me and having to go through this, how it will affect them later on in life."
Families and the elderly account for fast growing homeless groups. Aaron Reddin with the non-profit The One Inc says, "Homelessness is not completely represented by the guy at 630 and University holding a sign."
For many years, Reddin and his van have been a welcomed sight for folks in need, packed with snacks and necessities. He adds, "We're going to the camps, we're going to the streets, we're combing the alley ways and trying to find the people that aren't in shelters or aren't accessing services."
Reddin estimates for every one person counted at least one isn't, like this mother, "All I need is a start and knowing you just need a start or just a push and it's not really available, that's just the hardest part."
A Government report shows a 1.1 percent increase in the U.S. homeless population.
Reddin says you'd be surprised by how homeless live in tents near their full time jobs. That's why he's raising money for a mobile units that houses showers and laundry units and for the homeless in downtown he's challenging the city to open an adequate resource center.
To contact Aaron Reddin, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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