Volunteers spend 24 hours counting homeless population
(KATV) A Census of Central Arkansas's homeless is underway. It is done every two years to determine where they are and how to divide federal funding for social service agencies.
Volunteers and homeless organizations spend 24 hours looking for the homeless. They do it in one day to lessen the chance of double counting, but as you can imagine you can't find everyone.
The Van is loaded. Aaron Reddin and his dog Baxter head out, following leads, looking for unsheltered homeless.
At times he has to go off road. He successfully finds camps but the tents are empty. Aaron says that's because they are working homeless. "We have a population of working homeless and students. We have found them from 20 to now 62. They are going to school but having to try and do it while living out here. I can't even imagine."
Many camps are set up off major roads and highways. Aaron adds, "Two years ago we counted 487, and I'm not sure there's been a huge dent put in that number."
Walking through a larger camp, Aaron stumbled on to a baby bed. Fortunately it hasn't been used recently. "Every time we get someone of the streets, we find a new face. It's almost a constant rotation of people and it's tough to figure out how to drop that number down."
The homeless count isn't out of Aaron's element. He is president and founder of The One Inc, a volunteer driven non- profit. He drives around town every night, making sure everyone living outside has blankets and food.
"This count gives us a chance to come back to people and say look, this is what we're finding out here. You have roughly 500 neighbors who live outside."
Aaron also makes stops at locations that feed homeless. At the Dream Center they ask for 58 bags. Bags go to each person who is counted. They consist of socks, flash lights, batteries, water, hygiene products and snacks.
Some leads take Aaron under bridges and he meet with several couples who are homeless. "We see a lot of that. If you're down to nothing but the person you love, there is not a couples shelter anywhere."
The count isn't complete, but as of now between Pulaski, Saline and Lonoke Counties... volunteers have given out more than 400 bags to people who are homeless.
Aaron Reddin has also started growing food to feed people in need. For that Channel Seven story, click here.