Advocates for ending homelessness say change is coming to move people off the streets and into permanent housing.
“The number of them could be going up or maybe we are getting better at finding them,” Executive Director of NWA Continuum of Care Steve Burt said.
Steve Burt with Northwest Arkansas Continuum of Care says the first step in addressing the homeless problem is matching a number to a professional.
“There are 1,400 people experiencing homelessness in NWA,” Burt said.
Burt says now that there is a system to track the homeless population, the key is spreading the resources to the community.
“Now that I have a number, we are in the ballpark now,” Burt said. “It’s a rough number but now I can go to the federal government and the state and private foundations and ask for the support that they need. That takes the pressure off of social workers now.”
Holly Barron – with the National Association of Social Workers – organized a workshop Thursday to bring together homeless organizations and social workers from across the region.
“Often time at the forefront – you see these social workers,” Barron said. “Whether they are working at hospitals or homeless organizations
One of the achievements Burt is proud of is cutting down the veteran homeless population .
“In June we had 77,” Burt said. “Now we have 48. In three months we have reduced it by 30 people. So now we have a plan.”
Burt says he’s hoping this success will open the door for a plan that fits all different backgrounds.
“We want them creating an opportunity for people to get sheltered instead of just in and out, in and out, in and out and not living in the street and not in the woods,” Burt said.