On a conference call with media members last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that $2 billion in grants are going to be awarded to benefit locally operated program to assist the homeless.


“HUD stands with our local partners who are working each and every day to house and serve our most vulnerable neighbors,” said HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson on the conference call. “We know how to end homelessness and it starts with embracing a housing-first approach.”


Arkansas is set to receive $4.2 million and of that, Pulaski County-based programs will receive the lion’s share or about $3.1 million.


The rest will go to programs in Pine Bluff, Fayetteville and rural programs in Boone, Baxter, Marion and Newton counties. The state will also receive nearly $500,000 as well. A total of 26 programs in Arkansas will receive funding.


Nationally, larger population states received more funding. California, for one, had 900 programs funded to a tune of $382 million.


The awards were based on the “Continuum of Care competition” with Little Rock-based programs leading the way.


But, no North Little Rock based agencies applied for assistance this year, said Melissa Ervin, with North Little Rock’s Community Development Agency and added that River City Ministries has received funding in previous years.


Regardless, “homeless persons in North Little Rock can and will benefit from services provided by the homeless service providers who did apply,” she wrote in an e-mail.


HUD estimates that Arkansas has around 2,000 homeless people with about a 50/50 split for those staying in shelters and those who the agency defines as “unsheltered.”


The last survey was conducted on Jan. 26, 2017, with another expected to happen later this month.