BIG PROJECTS AHEAD: Aaron Reddin with The Van. Mary Hennigan

The City of Little Rock is teaming up with groups that help the city’s homeless population to host an “Unsheltered Spring Event” on March 29.

This should be good news for the Little Rock’s 700+ unsheltered residents, but an email sent earlier today has one of the most prominent unsheltered-assistance groups pulling out of the event completely.


Aaron Reddin of The One Inc., better known to most as The Van, posted to social media a screenshot of an email from the city and wrote, “And I am OUT. What a joke. How you gonna tell people not to give unsheltered people tents? Done.” The email Reddin posted was from Cecilia Cole, program director at the city’s Department of Housing & Neighborhood Programs.

Here’s the email:


Good Morning,


Due to the discrepancy of the CATCH Unsheltered Spring Event, the name has been rebranded to City of Little Rock/HNP Unsheltered Spring Event. The event will still take place on Friday, March 29, 2024, from 10am-3pm at the Rivermarket Pavilion Area in Little Rock. Thank you to all those who have decided to participate in this event.


The City of Little Rock/HNP Unsheltered Spring Event is for unsheltered individuals to receive resources, understanding and knowledge about the services available to them in the Central Arkansas area.


Note: If you would like to bring your own tables, chairs, other set up for the event along with your resources, business cards, care packages (if applicable), you may. Also, tents for the unsheltered are not allowed at this event.


There’s still room for more vendors. Please contact to reserve your spot!


Have a pleasant day.

Prohibiting people and organizations at an event for unsheltered persons from handing out tents — literally, shelter! — misses the mark. It’s the kind of plan one might expect from New York City Mayor Eric Adams (or perhaps Springfield’s Diamond Joe Quimby), but not from Little Rock. 

So what gives? Whose idea was it to prohibit tents? What is the rationale?


“I haven’t seen any explanation,” Reddin said via text message in response to questions from the Arkansas Times. “They just don’t want people to have tents, best I can tell by all their other efforts to demolish and throw them away all over town.”

As Reddin noted, Little Rock has driven unsheltered folks out of encampments in the past, including recently. On February 21, Reddin mentioned on Facebook that the city had bulldozed “the belongings of several unsheltered folks, most notable of which being a double foot amputee.”


“They are definitely still clearing [camps],” Reddin said. “They told me when we pitched a fit a couple weeks ago they’d go back to posting a seven-day notice and notifying The Van proper so we could at least attempt a relocation (to absolutely nowhere).”  

Top Dog Catering, a Cabot restaurant that routinely brings food trucks around to feed people living in temporary camps, reported on social media this weekend that camps they used to visit have been razed.


While the seven-day notice before razing unsheltered encampments predates the current city administration — “[Former Mayor Mark] Stodola committed to it about 7 years ago,” Reddin said — the policy doesn’t seem to be followed consistently, Reddin said. 


“Somewhere along the way someone decided to stop [giving notice],” Reddin said. “I haven’t seen those posted notices in a few years.”  

But back to the distribution of tents specifically. Reddin said this is the first instance he knows of where handing out tents is specifically prohibited. “I’ve never seen them preemptively try to dissuade the distribution of tents in any way,” he said.

Late Monday afternoon, Kevin Howard with the Department of Housing & Neighborhood Programs explained the decision:

The City is looking to have several providers at the Unsheltered Spring Event to offer resources to our unsheltered community. However Little Rock city ordinances prohibits camping in public parks and rights-way because this is a city sponsored event it would be inappropriate to allow distribution of tents.

Reddin said the city’s stance on tent distribution brought to mind a fundraiser where the rules are different, at least temporarily. “They all gather in the park once a year and ‘sleep out’ in tents to raise money for their day resource center,” Reddin said, referring to the annual campout of city leaders, members of the board of directors, volunteers and others in Murray Park to raise money for Jericho Way.


For those events, the city makes an exception. But the juxtaposition doesn’t sit well with Reddin.

While he and The Van may not be participating in the city’s event this month, Reddin said he isn’t going to let the city’s directive about tents change his plans too much. “I’ll see y’all in the near vicinity with a truckload of tents to distribute,” he said.