Growing Concern Over Homeless People Dying in South Fayetteville


At least five homeless people have been found dead in South Fayetteville in the last two years.

The fifth, Wesley Hunt.  was discovered face down in a creek Saturday. 

“As a community, we need to just stop thinking that the problem is going to take care of itself,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, a professor at the University of Arkansas. “People living outside in the woods, without basic sanitation, without basic safety and security..that’s wrong.”

Saturday’s discovery of 43-year-old Wesley Hunt’s body puts another name on the list of people who’ve died from living out in the woods.

Hunt was a client at 7 Hill Homeless Center for 3 years.

“We have to meet a tragedy like this, and say how can this galvanize us to do more?” said Solomon Burchfield, director at the center.

Burchfield said 5 people have been found dead in their tent and under a tree or bridge. 

“They’re some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” said Burchfield.

“We just have to continue to find ways to change this part of the narrative, because this story never ends well,” said Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick said with this most recent death, enough is enough.

“Whether we respond by finding housing, or finding resources or creating alternative communities,” said Fitzpatrick. 

Fitzpatrick is opening a transitional homeless campsite next year on a plot of land near 7 Hills, but he said more needs to be done.

“That chronic, unsheltered population it has been a thorn on the side of the city. And we need to remove it both carefully and thoughtfully,” said Fitzpatrick.

Burchfield said it’s going to take a lot of people coming together to make a difference.

“You can help, your church can help, the city government and the city where you live can help,” said Burchfield.

Both Burchfield and Fitzpatrick said the clock is ticking for change, and peoples’ lives are on the line. 

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