Fayet­teville should tackle home­less­ness now

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

As we in North­west Arkansas bask in the spot­light of be­ing such a won­der­ful place to live, we should con­sider what we need to work on to make it bet­ter. The real test of a com­mu­nity or of a so­ci­ety is the qual­ity of life for its poor­est peo­ple.

A re­cent sur­vey doc­u­mented a large and grow­ing home­less “com­mu­nity” in Fayet­teville. It is en­cour­ag­ing that our City Coun­cil is pro­vid­ing funds to help sup­port 7 Hills, which pro­vides shel­ter and ser­vices for home­less peo­ple.

I urge the mayor and coun­cil to go all in on this is­sue. Make it a fund­ing pri­or­ity. Make a state­ment that the peo­ple of Fayet­teville do not ac­cept that some of our cit­i­zens must fall through the cracks be­cause it might cost too much to fix the cracks.

I be­lieve we are smart enough and the peo­ple of Fayet­teville are gen­er­ous enough, if our lead­ers de­velop a good plan and mar­ket it. We are up to the chal­lenge.

Seven Hills is a good place to start. Please look at other ci­ties, in­clud­ing in Canada and other coun­tries, that have ef­fec­tive pro­grams to al­le­vi­ate home­less­ness.

By all means, se­cure grants from the fed­eral and state govern­ment, foun­da­tions and donors. But by all means chal­lenge us as cit­i­zens of this great city to own this prob­lem and deal with it proudly. If we lead, the rest of the re­gion will fol­low.

This is an ur­gent is­sue be­cause our cur­rent pros­per­ity al­lows us to tackle it at a point where it is man­age­able. Many ur­ban ar­eas are over­whelmed by the size of such prob­lems. We are not. We can deal with it, to­day, if we will. It will only be worse to­mor­row.

Choose one: We want a large and grow­ing home­less com­mu­nity. We do not ac­cept a large and grow­ing home­less com­mu­nity.

Make us proud with your choice. HOW­ELL MEDDERS

Fayet­teville

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