The situation of men and women who are experiencing homeless in our state and across the nation has become more apparent since the pandemic of 2020. Individuals and families have fallen from situations of housing stability resulting from increased housing costs, medical problems, and an inability to find work commensurate to what was previously earned pre-pandemic. Men and women from various backgrounds are now in the lived experience of homelessness. In the state of Arkansas, 2,459 persons experience homelessness, finding some form of relief within either emergency shelters or transitional housing (HUD 2022, Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Program Data). The lived experience of homelessness is a touch point regardless of gender, ethnicity, or health situation.
Persons who are experiencing homelessness possess what John F. Crosby describes as being “persons who are unrepeatable” (Crosby, 2019). Individual persons who have found themselves standing on street corners to secure coins for hotel stays, who are accessing various local nonprofit and faith based services in our county, or sitting in a public school, are not to be lost in the category of homelessness. These individual persons can not be replaced as objects nor ignored to satisfy our individual comforts. Rather, these persons possess an outstanding unrepeatable quality which translates into 2,459 individual stories and experiences. Individuals who possess a dignity and richness which is obscured by our focus on the experience and the associated stereotypes. Crosby asks each of us to take a moment and look beneath the tired eyes, the aroma, and the disruptive classroom behavior to see the unique quality of the person before our eyes.