CFI Director Kevin Fitzpatrick Completes NWA Homeless Point-in-Time Census
Kevin Fitzpatrick, University Professor and director of the Community and Family Institute in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences just completed the sixth biannual homeless census in Washington and Benton counties.
Every two years, the CFI along with community and student volunteers, and with the cooperation of several local homeless service providers, conducts a comprehensive census of homeless adults. The census provides critical data used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development when awarding grants to local groups.
The census asks a comprehensive set of questions related to the demographic, housing history, chronic conditions and service needs of both sheltered and unsheltered homeless adults. Since the homeless census has been conducted in 2007, it has helped to bring over $3.5 million of federal funding to Northwest Arkansas.
According to Fitzpatrick, the 2017 count estimated 2,951 people in a variety of homeless circumstances including nearly 600 face-to-face interviews, reports from public schools, and homeless service providers. This number is up almost 500 people from the previous point-in-time estimate in 2015, and is 2.5 times the number in 2007.
"This is a critical outreach activity the Community and Family Institute and the University of Arkansas provides to the local community and Northwest Arkansas region," said Anna Zajicek, chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. "Dr. Fitzpatrick's research and community activities focus on increasing awareness about community issues and promoting social justice and equity in partnership with community-based organizations. He has been an extraordinary leader engaging both the community and the university in critical, yet sometimes difficult conversations about community and family issues."
Fitzpatrick joined the university in 2005 as the Jones Chair in Community and director of the Community and Family Institute. Since then he has conducted several studies of national concern that are also particularly relevant to the local community and the state.
In addition to the homeless census, Fitzpatrick has conducted comprehensive assessments of health, nutrition, and food insecurity among the middle school students in Northwest Arkansas (grades 5-7) and high school students in Northwest Arkansas (grades 10-12); completed a semester-long Adopt-A-Classroom project with Fayetteville High School; engaged in the comprehensive evaluation of the quality-of-life in Northwest Arkansas; developed 19 community fact sheets; and assessed statewide assistance programs, among others.
"His contributions to the department, to Fulbright College, to the University of Arkansas and to the discipline have truly been outstanding," Zajicek said. "We are very fortunate to have among us someone of Dr. Fitzpatrick's stature and commitment to community well-being."
About the Community and Family Institute: The Community and Family Institute is located in the University of Arkansas' Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice. The Institute was founded in 1997 based on the principle that community improvement, initiative sustainability, and program success are closely tied to the assessment of needs, evaluation of community goals, and development of appropriate and pragmatic responses to problems. The Institute is dedicated to helping people build better communities by collecting meaningful data, facilitating information-based planning, and developing custom research strategies for exploring important social issues in the Northwest Arkansas region and beyond.
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