A group of advocates for homeless residents gathered at tonight’s Little Rock City Board meeting to object to an uptick in evictions of homeless camps around the city.
Aaron Reddin of The One, who organized the effort, said the city has posted notices at four camps in the past few weeks demanding that people vacate the premises within five days. When the deadline runs out, code enforcement has in some cases thrown away people’s belongings, he stated.
“We had a good talk with [Mayor Mark Stodola] yesterday and explained what these folks are up against. … It kind of seemed to blow his mind and he agreed that it needed to stop. … [But] we’ve been down this road with the city so many times, and it’s time the city board did something,” Reddin said. “We just want them to promise that they won’t do any more of these sweeps or evictions without some kind of option for these folks.”
Although the city has posted such eviction notices for quite some time, he said, enforcement has grown more aggressive lately. Reddin isn’t sure why: “Nobody seems to give a straight answer about why they cranked up the heat.” The city has recently hired a new homeless coordinator — a position that was unfilled for some time.
Jennifer Godwin, a spokesperson for the city, told a reporter before the board meeting that “the evictions have been suspended for now as we regroup and figure out the best approach going forward.” There hasn’t been an official change in city policy regarding evictions, she said. As to whether the city was throwing away people’s belongings, Godwin said she wasn’t aware of that happening. “Typically, they’re given to Jericho Way [the city’s day center for the homeless] … but I don’t know what happened in this particular situation.”