Mississippi programs that provide homeless services are breathing a sigh of relief after receiving 4.7 million dollars in federal grants. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded grants to 27 Mississippi programs that help the homeless. In January a count was taken to determine the number of homeless in Mississippi, but the final count isn't in yet. Agencies place last year's number at more than 1,500. Donna Miller is with The Guardian Shelter for Battered Families in Natchez. They'll receive $204,000. The organization helps women and children who have suffered from domestic violence after they leave shelters. They find them apartments and pay their rent up to six months.
"Say a mother with four children and she's working a minimum wage job, course they start from the very beginning. I mean it's a whole new home for them. They require everything generally. We have to help with beds and furniture and all of that to kinda get them on their feet," said Miller.
Miller says the goal is to help the families become financially independent. Last year they helped 50 families with financial-aid and housing. Lisa Williams with Partners to End Homelessness in Jackson, says they're relieved because agencies apply for the grants in the fall and wait until March for a decision. Her organization received $400,000. They place homeless veterans, women and children and those with disabilities in permanent housing.
"We can work with an individual or a family as long as is necessary, to get them to a point that they are able to maintain stabilized housing on their own," said Williams.
Lisa Williams added there are several national initiatives that require organizations put processes in place to end homelessness. She says Mississippi is doing better, but not there yet.