In Northwest Arkansas, the Genesis House, a non-profit organization, is helping people understand what it is like to spend a day in the life of the homeless.
According to projecthome.org, during 2013, there were 610, 042 homeless across the United States of America. Of that 610,042, 394,698 live in shelters, 215,344 do not live in shelters, 387,845 are individuals and 222,197 are families.
Here in Arkansas, there are 4,214 people without a place to sleep each night, according to spotlightonpoverty.org.
Kevin M. Fitzpatrick, a sociologist at the University of Arkansas, and his colleagues, Don Willis and Gail O’Conner, said that according to their census, “Community Fact Sheet: Counting NWA’s Homeless,” the percentage of homeless in the NWA area is increasing.
“As the country slowly recovers from the most significant economic downturn since the Great Depression, the number of homeless in Northwest Arkansas increased from an estimated 2,001 in 2011 to 2,429 (18 percent increase) in 2013.”
Fitzpatrick goes on to say that one half of the homeless in the NWA are youths under the age of 18.
The Genesis House Inc. in Siloam Springs is a homeless shelter that seeks to not only provide a place for their clients to sleep, but to also provide them with resources so they can rebuild their lives.
On a daily basis the Genesis House provides shelter, showers, hot meals, telephone services and financial assistance.
“Genesis House strives to provide a safe place of shelter and support to homeless individuals and families and those at risk of homelessness who are striving to overcome the obstacles of self-sufficiency,” said the Genesis House website.
In order to spread awareness about homelessness in NWA and to get the public involved, the Genesis House sponsored an event called One Night Without A Home.
During the event, people came to spend the night in City Park with just their blankets, or tents if they want, and experience briefly the conditions a homeless person lives with every day. This event took place on Oct. 17-18.
The Genesis House welcomes volunteers to help serve food, make beds, clean or to help out in any way they can.