FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — The number of homeless kids in the Fayetteville community is increasing.
That’s according to 7-hills Homeless Center.
To end this phenomenon, Northwest Arkansas non-profits are coming together to get these kids off the streets, and connected to the resources they need.
“Just within the last six months, I’ve seen more youth, especially children than I’ve ever seen in my entire time being here,” said Daniel Robertson, the director of operations at 7hills.
“There’s so many homeless people, not one organization can do everything,” said Kody Ford, the street outreach coordinator at Youth Bridge.
Kody Ford is one of many people actively trying to make life better for young homeless people.
“We just try and find kids wherever they may be staying at or spending time at,” he said.
This is in places like parks, homeless centers and hotels.
Ford said, “From there, we just want to develop a relationship and connect them with resources for housing, medicaid and other things they need to survive.”
When the program launched in fall of 2018, it was slow. But now, Ford is working face-to-face with more kids than ever.
“I’m seeing two, maybe three kids a week sometimes,” he said.
Earlier this year, Continuum of Care reported the number of homeless children is nearly four times higher than the number of homeless adults.
That’s about 2,000 homeless kids under the age of 18.
Ford says fighting these statitics isn’t easy.
“Sometimes, you will work with them for a while, all the way up to getting them housing. Sometimes, they may pop up on your radar and then they’re gone a week later,” he said.
This is why Youth Bridge works with organizations like 7hills.
Robertson said, “We basically get together and find those who fit within their age requirements and then allow them to do case management with those individuals.”
Robertson said kids and families are his priority.
He said, “I mean we’ve seen children come in here that don’t even have shoes on their feet.”
He hopes that seeing the amount homeless kids and women will change the stigma that people without homes are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
A lot of these people are fleeing domestic violence, or a bad living situation.
“You can’t save the world,” Ford said. “And you know we’re not out here to save people. We’re here to empower people and connect people.”
If you see or know a young person who needs help, you can email Kody Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (479) 575-9471.