We reported a couple of weeks ago that Little Rock had made a formal application to turn the former Job Corps center in a former hotel at 22nd and Vance into a center for the homeless. The Democrat-Gazette today followed up with the expected news that "several" neighbors had complained.
Robert Johnston, a former state legislator serving the Quapaw Quarter area and long-time advocate for the homeless, offers some commentary:
The story is OK but somewhat misleading and incomplete.
‘Several’ should read ‘ a few’ or ‘4.’
The minister from 21st and Bragg (whose church is tiny) compared homeless to "garbage" and later compared them to "gangbangers, murderers, whores, drug addicts."
The neighborhood is not primarily residential but a mixture of industrial, commercial and residential, with many boarded-up businesses and homes. The back streets are rife with weedlots, abandoned cars, deteriorating rent houses, abandoned furniture in front of abandoned houses. 21st is a high traffic street, as is I-30 and Roosevelt.
The city of Little Rock if/when it moves on this should offer landscaping -- particularly on 21st -- and intensified code enforcement on the back streets, particularly on weed lots. Not now. Then.
There is little or no public recognition from the neighborhood or the Homeless Commission that the majority of the homeless are black, harmless, needy and human.
-- Robert Johnston