Unsheltered people set up temporary shelters near the intersection of Interstate 630 and University. Brian Chilson

Attacking homelessness is very hard! Attacking the homeless is easy.

To wit, the U.S. Supreme Court this morning upheld a law against sleeping in public. No longer will homeless people be allowed to set up tents in Grants Pass, Oregon. Nor can anyone there legally nap in the grass or catch a nod on a park bench.

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What about here, though? Could Friday’s decision prompt local governments to crack down on people living in tents? Aaron Reddin, founder of The Van and a tireless advocate for Central Arkansas’s unsheltered, worries it might. He reacted swiftly on social media to the ruling, with a warning but also reassurance.

“Look for Little Rock to crank up their sweeps. Look for us to replace every tent at every turn. We will never stop protecting those they trample on no matter what any court says. This ruling is inhumane,” Reddin said on Twitter.

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That brave face crumpled a bit in a phone interview, however. Reddin said his first reaction to the ruling was fear.

“I’m scared to death for a lot of people that I love,” he said.

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He’s also motivated. The Van will continue to supply tents, food and water to people in Central Arkansas who need them, he said.

While Little Rock does have a law against camping on public property, violators are not arrested, city spokesman Aaron Sadler said. He provided this statement Friday:

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Like many other cities, the City of Little Rock prohibits camping on public property. However, to be clear, the City does not arrest unsheltered residents in violation of the ordinance. In fact, when we respond to complaints about encampments, our homelessness engagement specialists spend a substantial amount of time ensuring unsheltered residents have access to the resources they need in the days and even weeks leading up to removal of an encampment. These specialists work closely with LRPD’s crisis response teams to make sure all residents are treated fairly and offered assistance. We are fortunate in Little Rock to have partners like Jericho Way and other organizations to provide help as our unsheltered residents transition to permanent, supportive housing. The upcoming opening of our Micro Home Village will be a welcome addition to that quilt of solutions.

Pulaski County is also working with a nonprofit group on Providence Park, a 50-acre village of 400 tiny homes in southern Pulaski County.

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