Arkansas homeless camps clearing amid looming deadline
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Homeless people are leaving encampments on land owned by the University of Arkansas as a Thursday deadline nears for them to leave.
University police have issued warnings this week to people living in camps on the south Fayetteville property. People still at the site on Thursday will be arrested, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
“This is their warning, that they have time now to make other arrangements and leave,” said Capt. Gary Crain of the University of Arkansas Police Department.
Police and service-agency representatives first notified people Aug. 9 that they would have to leave the property. University police cited rising crime and a lack of resources as reasons behind breaking up the camps.
Up to 100 people lived at the camps in May, according to 7 Hills Homeless Center. About 25 people remained as of Tuesday, said Solomon Burchfield, the nonprofit’s director of operations.
“I know quite a few people moved out over the weekend,” Burchfield said.
The Thursday deadline “means stress, panic” and sadness, said Victor Neblett, who has been staying at the camps for about a year.
He said “a lot of good people” sought shelter in the camps.
The university plans to post “no trespassing” signs on the property on Thursday, said Amy Schlesing, the university’s executive director of strategic communications. Last month, university spokesman Steve Voorhies said that efforts are underway to sell the land.
Local service providers have recently increased efforts to help the homeless, said Angela Belford, board chairman for the Northwest Arkansas Continuum of Care. The Salvation Army expanded its shelter operations, and 7 Hills is now allowing overnight parking on its property and has two portable toilets in place. Genesis Church hosted a community meeting and walk-in event for homeless people to receive information on health and other services.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com