One of the first things that blew my mind when I moved to Northwest Arkansas was the dichotomy of wealth. I worked in a building where I shared the elevator with the Health Department and the Women's Shelter was on the floor above me. I would leave a business meeting with an executive who no doubt lived in a large home, had an expensive suit on and would enjoy more than one meal that day at a local restaurant and would walk back in to my office building with people who live on the other end of the wealth spectrum from my meeting guest. It was crazy to me that the 2 wealthiest counties in our state were also the 2nd and 3rd in line for hunger and poverty.
Its a fact that still blows my mind and frankly I've not been able to figure out. But, this month as I join the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers and bring awareness to HOMELESSNESS in Northwest Arkansas its the thing that will keep swirling in my mind as I serve the important people in our community.
I thought I'd share some one liners about the reality of Homelessness in NWA and then later this month, I'm hosting a guest who will share some specifics about what the "picture" really looks like.
Hold on to your hat, some of this will blow your mind:
- "Nationwide estimates put the number of persons without their own home on any given night at approximately 700,000."
- "Approximately 2,462 persons are estimated to be homeless in the Northwest Arkansas area (Washington & Benton counties)."
- "1,195 are K-12 school age youth reported from public schools, 139 are reported children under 6 years old and K-12 age children not currently attending public school." - YEP, HALF of the homeless population in NWA are grade school kids...my special guest is going to talk to us more about this!
- Invisible homeless is a term used for persons living in "inaccessible places such as abandoned buildings, doubling up with friends and relatives," and reported by school districts as parents of their children.
- "Median monthly income was approximately $600."
- 37% reported having full or part-time employment.
- "Personal relationships and job loss/ income issues are two of the most often cited reasons for an individual’s homelessness."
- "The most common problem associated with being homeless is getting clothing, with 29.2 percent saying they often have this problem."
- "The most common daily hassle reported was lack of privacy.."
- "Over 24 percent of homeless interviewed have had suicidal thoughts during their homelessness; 60 percent of suicide attempts occurred while homeless."
The facts are real. Its like everything else we've looked at in this series. The results are real. The results are startling and we can't turn our head. I remember last year when I learned more about the homeless population in Northwest Arkansas my heart hurt so bad on those days after days of snow and being stuck inside. The homeless population is a real part of the Northwest Arkansas community. But, as I learned over the Thanksgiving weekend, its a real part of the population in my hometown back in Texas. And, I bet the same could said for yours....
This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.