LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Officials with the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) asked people living in camps near interstates and highways in Little Rock and North Little Rock to relocate so the areas can be cleared out.
Crews were working Wednesday at the intersection of Rodney Parham and I-430 to mow and clean up a spot where some unsheltered people previously stayed.
Dave Parker, an ARDOT spokesperson, said the people were notified on Nov. 21 that they would need to move.
“It becomes a safety matter, a cleanup matter, and that’s why we step in,” Parker said.
Parker said that a homelessness specialist accompanied ARDOT crews and people were presented with resources to help with the moving process. He said city and county officials were also in discussions that led to this, and the decision had to do with the season.
“When you’ve got less foliage, less leaves on the trees, people are more visible,” Parker said. “Complaints start to build.”
Other areas in the Central Arkansas area were designated as sites for ARDOT to clear. Aaron Reddin, the founder of a homelessness advocacy group called “The Van,” said his team went to those locations to ask if people needed extra assistance.
“Thank goodness [ARDOT] came through to give notice,” Reddin said. “Kudos for that part.”
Reddin said he disagrees with the decision to remove the camps, noting many people do not have an alternative place to stay.
“There’s not immediate options for everyone out here,” Reddin said.
Parker said nobody wants to be “the bad guy,” but ARDOT workers are simply cleaning up spots under the agency’s jurisdiction.
“In order to do our job, we have to give notice to say, ‘Hey, we’ve gotta clean this up,'” Parker said. “‘You’re going to have to find another spot.'”