Jackson Hinds Library System provides resources to homeless visitors

Libraries are a place of refuge for the homeless avoiding heat and harsh winters during the day.

Hinds Jackson Library System provides resources to homeless visitors

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Libraries across the country have increasingly become a place of refuge for homeless people and Eudora Welty Library in Jackson is no exception.

“I come to the library every day to keep cool and to be warm in the winter time. I can read, I can get on the internet, I can draw,” said Jerry Hilliard.

Hilliard said he’s been homeless for six years and spends his days at the library in Downtown Jackson before going to a shelter to sleep.

However, he isn’t the only one that finds it convenient to hide out in the library to avoid harsh weather and unsafe conditions.

“On a regular day, we might have 30 [homeless visitors]. On a weekend, we may have 40 to 50 depending on what other resources are open,” said Executive Director Patty Furr.

She said this location is one of the most popular, but every branch has its group of people seeking daytime refuge.

Furr said at least 100 people will visit the library on the weekends and half of them may very well be homeless.

“If they’re a resident at a local shelter, the shelter manager writes a letter and we’re able to give them a regular library card," said Furr.

That card gives them access to free books and computers.

On the weekends, the library will provide lunch and a place to eat indoors.

“Some days you may not have anything to eat but every so often some people come up. Different church groups will bring plates, bring sandwiches,” said ‘Primetime,’ another homeless visitor.

Furr said the library system has been in touch with city officials and others to help these homeless visitors.

“When we spoke to the Hinds Behavioral Health Center that’s here in Hinds County, they told us that most of our homeless persons are their clients already,” said Furr.

While that conversation continues, some say they’re content with the help and kindness they’ve received so far.

“Yes, yes. That’s very important cause, like, you go to other stores or other parts of the city and, like I said, people judge you. They’re quick to their own opinion about you being homeless,” said ‘Primetime.'

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