FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Two people were stabbed at the 7hills Homeless Center on Wednesday, and the incident is now raising concerns on safety and security at local homeless shelters.
“Unfortunately, what happens when there is not a stable place for people that’s safe, people are going to self-govern a little bit. And, there is going to be a potential for violence,” said CEO of 7hills Homeless Center Becci Sisson.
Sisson says the homeless population in Fayetteville is rapidly increasing. Which means the need for immediate shelters is growing as those with no homes are fending for themselves.
“People in survivor mode, really our brains are different when we are in survivor mode. You know your adrenaline is high. Our cortisol is pumping through our bodies. So, we are really on guard,” said Solomon Burchfield with New Beginnings NWA.
7hills Homeless Center is only open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Which is why Solomon Burchfield of New Beginnings NWA is helping provide a safe environment for those who don’t have a home.
“So, we opened New Beginnings to create a program that really prioritizes those who have chronic homeless backgrounds,” said Burchfield.
As for security, the organization has a trained staff member ready to help anyone in need.
“We have a person on site 24/7, 365 days out of the year. Part of that is to help make people feel safe and to make sure people that are outside the community don’t come in,” said Burchfield.
However, Burchfield says this isn’t enough. He and Sisson say the city needs to act now by building an immediate shelter.
“If we could have a space where people could stay overnight. If we can work expanding that then they are not in survivor mode, they are well rested. They are fed. Their clothes are washed. They’ve had a safe night,” said Sisson.
Sisson says the center is seeing an increase in homelessness and it’s not young adults, but people in their 60’s that are showing up needing help.