The mayor: Let them stay | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The mayor: Let them stay

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 4:57 PM

Humanitarians who man feeding stations for the homeless in Riverfront Park are pleased with a message on homelessness sent out by Mayor Stodola today. In an e-mail titled "Ending Chronic Homelessness," Stodola writes:

While some may support prohibiting organizations from feeding the homeless in the park, I will remain opposed to such efforts until there is a suitable location developed as an alternative. I am sure a satisfactory solution can be found and I am working diligently to locate such a site. It is my hope that a Day Resource Center will be the remedy for this situation. I hope to come forward with a new site in the near future. 

Little Rock's homeless services coordinator Jimmy Pritchett said last week that city directors have complained about trash and human waste in the park, and City Director Dean Kumpuris has asked the city attorney to write an ordinance regulating feeding the homeless in the park.

Stodola's email on the jump.

This is part of a series of updates from Mayor Mark Stodola addressing various topics of interest to the citizens of Little Rock.
 
Message from the Mayor
 
Ending Chronic Homelessness
 
During the recent cold spell we experienced earlier this month, the City of Little Rock opened a temporary over-night warming center at the Nathaniel Hill Community Center. With the help of numerous volunteers and community organizations, the City took care of more than 120 individuals for a week with food, clothing and a warm place to sleep. I am particularly grateful for all of the volunteers who donated their time to this endeavor and I appreciate the many citizens who wrote the City to offer support and encouragement for our efforts to help the homeless in our community.
 
Three years ago, Little Rock set a goal to end chronic homelessness. Today, we are still hard at work addressing one of the most pressing issues in our city.
 
In 2006, a group of community leaders developed the Central Arkansas Ten-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness, which includes plans for a Homeless Day Resource Center in Little Rock. We took the first step in the process that year when we became the first city in Arkansas to hire a homeless services coordinator who would help implement the Ten-Year Plan. 
In 2008, we entered into a two-year partnership with River City Ministry to operate a temporary Homeless Day Resource Center in North Little Rock. This center provides the area’s homeless with a variety of critical services, including food, clothing, medical care, dental care and mental health care. The City continues to provide over $395,000 yearly to this endeavor. 
The next, and biggest step, is to find a permanent home for a Day Resource Center. This facility will offer a full range of services, including help with housing and employment in addition to food, clothing and health care. Ideally, the center will also house satellite offices for many of our city’s 65 non-profits and governmental agencies that provide services to the homeless. We have reviewed many possible sites over the past two years, all of which have been objected to by neighborhood opposition. It has been a very frustrating process.
 
As you may have read, for many years several well-intended organizations and churches have used portions of Riverfront Park under the bridge as a make-shift location to feed the homeless. This is not an ideal location for this endeavor for either the homeless or for other patrons of the park and, lately, the park and some of its improvements have experienced vandalism and theft.
 
While some may support prohibiting organizations from feeding the homeless in the park, I will remain opposed to such efforts until there is a suitable location developed as an alternative. I am sure a satisfactory solution can be found and I am working diligently to locate such a site. It is my hope that a Day Resource Center will be the remedy for this situation. I hope to come forward with a new site in the near future. 
 
I would like to ask you to forward this email to the people in your address book who may also want to know this information. They may sign up to receive future Messages from the Mayor by following the link below. If you wish to have your address deleted from future emails please follow the link below and click the “unsubscribe” button. Thank you.
 
Sincerely,
 
Mark Stodola
Mayor

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