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University of Arkansas To Evict Homeless in Camp

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (FOX24) - The homeless population is making its voice heard after news that a camp where they live will be shut down. Now, the community is stepping in to ensure the homeless are taken care of. 

The University of Arkansas recently notified several organizations who work with the homeless that people staying at the camp behind 7Hills will have to leave by Sept. 6. 

"I've been homeless on and off close to thirty years," said Ramona Lawrence. 

Most nights, Lawrence sleeps in the camp at 19th St. and School Ave. in Fayetteville. 

"They treat me like part of the family out here and I love it," Lawrence explained. 

But in recent months, the camp, where about 100 people stay every night, has become a hotspot for violence. 

"We cry, we bleed when one of our own gets hurt or something happens to them," Lawrence said. 

The University of Arkansas, which owns the land, has decided the area has become too dangerous and the homeless people will have to move off the property by Sept. 6. 

"Rather than just being told that they have a few days to move, we felt like it was important to bring everybody together so everybody heard the information at the same time," said Angela Belford, the board chair for the Northwest Arkansas Continuum of Care. 

Several organizations hosted a town hall meeting at 7Hills on Thursday to inform the campers about resources that will be available. 

Joshua Robinett, the area commander for the Salvation Army, said the nonprofit will open its cold weather shelter for six months to give campers a place to stay. 

Lawrence said she appreciates what the organizations are trying to do but she may have to leave the area after the campsite is cleared. 

"It breaks my heart on how we're treated like we're nothing," Lawrence said. 

She said she feels forgotten by her community. 

"Don't look down on us because we're homeless, we're human, we have a heart, we think, we bleed, we cry," Lawrence explained. 

The organizations at today's town hall plan to host resource fairs next week to help connect homeless individuals with services. The ultimate goal is to find more affordable housing for those who won't be able to camp anymore. 


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