Church offers new approach to Little Rock's homeless issue

Canvas Community Church hopes to fill the gaps between public and private resources for the homeless community. Staffers from local health care providers and addiction and mental health workers will be involved as will DHS.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A storefront church in Little Rock is heading into this new year with a new mission.

Canvas Community Church hopes to fill the gaps between public and private resources for the homeless community.

This season, they’re working to keep people off the streets with warming shelters, but that's just a start. They plan to take their mission far beyond that next month with a new location offering many services.

“You've got to go all over the city to get an ID, get medical health, or mental health stuff,” said Pastor of Canvas Community, Carter Ferguson.

Canvas is a United Methodist Church located in downtown Little Rock, where the city’s homeless issues are on full display.

“People need to learn to work together,” Ron Bara, board member at Jericho Way, added.

Pastor Ferguson is proud of the progress both the city and other homeless advocates have made this year, but admits there is still a disconnect. That's where Canvas comes in.

“What we're doing is launching another organization called The Hub. The mission of The Hub is to solve homelessness together,” he said.

The church is moving into the new year with new goals, starting with the purchase and renovation of their 13,000 square foot building.

“If I'm homeless I can come in to this place and get as much done as humanly possible without traveling all over. Which is also really great when its 30 degrees outside,” Ferguson added.

Canvas plans to build a cooperative space where all homeless advocates can have one centralized working location, making it easier to coordinate efforts and get access to services.

“It needs to be a collaboration of individuals, non-profits, faith community, business communities, and government,” said Bara. He thinks homelessness and poverty go hand in hand.

They're working to break the cycle.

“People hungry on the street need services and need warmth. Part of the population want a hand up also, they want to get back to work,” Bara said.

Plans call for The Hub to provide space and time for professionals to volunteer to help. Staffers from local health care providers and addiction and mental health workers will be involved. As will DHS, offering case management help, addiction, recovery and life coaching, and re-entry services.

© 2018 KTHV-TV


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