Jackson homeless shelters and population feel strain from COVID-19

Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 7:34 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - All across Jackson, homeless shelters are feeling the strain as many shelters temporarily close due to increasing cases of COVID-19.

“Omicron and delta have done crazy things, but people are still in need of service like never before,” Director of Opportunity Center, Christie Burnett, said.

No matter who or where you are, omicron has impacted everyone, including Jackson’s homeless population. So much so that shelters are having to either close their doors or limit their capacity.

“We used to be able to take, I would say about 40. We now won’t, we won’t take over 25,” spokesperson for Wingard Home, Rebekah Wingard, said.

Homeless Shelters like Gateway Rescue Mission and Wingard Home have had to stop taking people in due to staff or tenants contracting the virus.

“Right now, we’re not doing any intake. Just because we don’t want to have them come in and they catch it,” Wingard said.

And due to the closures, shelters that still remain open like the Opportunity Center are seeing a large influx of people needing help from the cold weather.

“Shower power is also putting up people in a hotel, and as of Saturday night, they were full. They were at full capacity and couldn’t help anyone else. And we only had two beds available. So and the outreach workers were going out and still finding people that were out and needed a place to stay,” Burnett said.

However, Burnett said the pandemic and closures have forced many shelters to work together to combat the homeless crisis in the city. But there is still work to be done.

“Luckily, we have some great folks that can put people up in hotels until they can get appointments. It’s just there’s so many people. And so it’s just like, you have to have patience,” Burnett said.

Burnett added that the most significant thing the Opportunity Center needs to be donated is meals to feed people at night when they stay at the shelter.

If anyone would like to help, folks can call the Opportunity Center to schedule a donation or to serve a meal.

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