Amidst the first snowfall of the season, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola unveiled his plan to provide relief for homeless citizens during below freezing temperatures.
Under the plan, the city will utilize the $174 set aside annually for homeless care to purchase hand warmers at a discount rate from Sam’s Club in the summer for the following winter.
“Last year I was able to purchase 300 hand warmers in the middle of July from Sam’s Club,” Stodola bragged during the press conference. “Thankfully the prices on hand warmers are so cheap during the summer we even had enough left over in the fund to buy a 5 gallon bucket of pimento stuffed olives that we will use to contribute to city wide feeding activities. It really should help our city’s homeless make it through the winter warm and toasty. Problem solved.”
The plan comes as Stodola and city manager Bruce Moore have been under constant scrutiny for ignoring and underserving homeless citizens of Little Rock, including frequently evicting homeless camps with little notice.
Earlier this week the city evicted residents of several homeless camps that had received no previous complaints ahead of the upcoming winter weather and sub freezing temperatures. The city justified the evictions saying it would encourage more homeless individuals to seek shelter in city warming centers, despite the fact that not enough shelters exist to hold all of the individuals.
Stodola says the plan should help those who are unable to find a shelter, and cannot gather in homeless camps around fire due to evictions to find enough warmth to make it through cold nights.
“These are extra large size hand warmers, not the little ones you usually see in gas stations. Plus they are rated for up to 10 hours so it should get someone through the night,” Stodola continued. “They are great for more than hands too, you can put these in your shoes if your feet get cold, or just drop them down your pants if that needs a little warming. It is way better than a fire or having to curl up in a sleeping bag out in the elements.”
Stodola says he is working on more ways to help with the extreme cold conditions such as forming a wool underwear drive, offering by one get one Starbucks latte coupons, and starting a spooning buddy system so homeless folks can share body heat.