RUSSELLVILLE, AR-- As the weather cools down homeless advocates are working to give some hidden homeless camps in Pope County an upgrade.
Volunteers are building plywood shelters near traditional tents to provide more coverage for unsheltered homeless people.
Tuesday, Nineteen year old Alyssa Mason shared her experiences with homelessness and staying in the hut. Mason says she found herself sleeping in a park bathroom while six months pregnant.
"I didn't want her to come into the world in the bathroom or something like that she says,” says Alyissa.
Social workers and police put her in touch with Fred Teague of the Russ Buss and the One Inc.
Teague says, “We're becoming a place of hope for people it's not just hopelessness of being on the streets.”
Teague took Mason and her husband to a tent and then a plywood structure referred to as a “hut” or shelter.
“It feels safer than you think,” Mason says. "We did call it home yeah, it was our home for a while.”
Ten times the cost of a tent, Teague says these structures are built with added security and support for working homeless to get back on their feet.
"To have privacy and have comfort of knowing you can come here shut doors, you're not going to be ate up by bugs,” he describes.
"It's huge. People ask, can't you do anything better than a tent and shelter but when you've slept in a bathroom it is a huge step up. It's pride knowing you have a place to live and place to stay,” says Teague.
“It made me feel like God was really there for us,” says Mason.
After two weeks in the shelter, Alyissa's husband found work, an apartment and a fresh start for their growing family.
“I see her coming to this world happy,” she says.
The Russellville police department supports the homeless camps in the woods and the new structures as long as they're following the law.Volunteers are hoping to continue to build more shelters at undisclosed locations.