Shelters struggle to house the estimated 1,500 homeless on the streets of Jackson

Shelters struggle to house the estimated 1,500 homeless on the streets of Jackson

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - In recent months, the number of homeless on the streets of Jackson has blossomed.

Some of that is due to the pandemic which is touching many lives. It’s also hurting those who provide the services the homeless need.

Christie Barnett, Director of the Opportunity Center said, “We see moms and kids and fathers, married couples that can’t stay together, so if they can’t stay together they’ll sleep outside.”

The Opportunity Center in Jackson added 31 beds after Covid hit to house the increasing number of homeless at night, but that’s still not enough.

Christie Barnett said, “There’s not a whole lot that we can do with our resources on hand. We try to help as much as we can but it just needs to be a larger conversation because there are cities or housing and mental health are being addressed.”

Christie Barnett estimates there are 1,500 homeless on the streets of Jackson. Many with mental illness which compounds efforts to help them. Many shelters had to scale back their shelter beds, to keep the homeless virus free.

Rex Baker, Executive Director of the Gateway Rescue Mission, said, “We did have to reduce the number of beds we have available in our shelter by about half, but it does seem like you have more people out there and it tugs at your heart strings because just at the time when you want to be helping more people you got this virus.”

As the homeless numbers rise, the pressure increases on places like Stewpot and Gateway Rescue Mission to provide meals and beds. With colder weather around the corner, the need for their services will increase.

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