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Barricades and citations won’t solve panhandling problem, according to homeless advocates

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 6:35 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Operation Safe Corners Task Force wants organizations to help them reach the homeless in its efforts to end the panhandling on city streets.

One homeless advocate believes barricades around where they gather are not the answer, but meeting them where they are and getting to know them will bring better results.

“Out of sight, out of mind, but we don’t want to deal with them,” said homeless advocate Margaret Garner.

The Jackson resident said displacing the homeless who ask for money on the streets and barricading where they take shelter is not the solution.

“So let’s say $100,000. We could have gotten them some help. It takes time,” said Garner.

She has worked decades with the area homeless. The trained psychologist worked with the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington D. C. and other advocacy groups.

She wants people in the community to not offer the homeless money but develop relationships with them and offer them resources to better their lives.

“They have gotten used to staying on that corner. They have gotten so used to this life,” said Garner. “So you have to have patience. Patience. Days and weeks with some.”

The 86-year-old recommends caution in your approach and not reaching out to those on drugs.

Gateway Rescue Mission Executive Director Rex Baker has seen an uptick in the number of homeless with signs in the area. He said they are nearby asking for money for food while the mission is serving free lunch.

Baker said they appear to be a group new to the city - not the regulars they serve. According to the non-profit head, it is a situation the city and service providers need to get a handle on.

“To those organizations, we are willing to work with you in order to clear this problem up,” said Operation Safe Corners Task Force Chair Supervisor David L. Archie.

Meanwhile, Garner also refers those she meets to Shower Power, which assists the homeless with hygiene items, food and clothing.

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