Harrison, Ark. homelessness committee combating mental health, lack of public education

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 5:03 PM CDT
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - The city of Harrison’s committee on homelessness presented its final report before the city council last week, sharing findings from a nearly nine-month-long study.

Tabitha Eddington, chairman of the committee,e presented the final report that shows that most individuals in Harrison, who appear homeless, are not. The primary issue includes mental health and substance abuse problems.

“And those really are the people that citizens are concerned about,” said Eddington. “We have seen those folks out and about and maybe have some unpleasant interactions with them, but they are not generally the situational homeless.”

Eddington says the area has resources available to assist those who are situationally homeless and individuals who have become lost and do not want to be. The city now looks to take steps to make resources available to help the demographic of chronically homeless individuals. Firstly through partnership with local health organizations.

“We are able to offer our services to the city of Harrison to help with the homeless population because we know a large portion of the homeless population has mental health issues and addiction issues,” said Dr. Dawn Phelps with Boston Mountain Rural Health Centers.

Boston Mountain is a federally qualified health center (FQHC) and receives funding through Medicare and Medicaid as reimbursement for providing outpatient services to rural areas.

The city is also working to educate the public on how to help the homeless wisely.

“Our city could create a PR campaign and do some education for our citizens about the wonderful resources that are available and can help, but also a majority of people that we are concerned about are actually homeless, they just have a mental health issue that keeps them from wanting to be at home.,” said Eddington.

In addition, the city is promoting the United Way 211 hotline, which helps troubled individuals pay bills, find food, and locate other resources nearby.

“First and foremost, I hope that the public understands that the city is purposeful about this issue and that the city understood citizens were concerned and want to do something to address it,” said Eddington.

Officials with the city of Harrison say now that the committee’s work is finished, it will continue to take steps to address the issue from a mental health standpoint.

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