COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Temperatures in the teens and wind chills in the single digits are dangerous and life-threatening.
However, people needing a place to stay in the Golden Triangle aren’t finding a shelter, and with a growing homeless population, there are organizations to help.
Columbus doesn’t have a homeless shelter, even though hundreds go without a place to live each month.
Community Outreach Director Glenda Buckhalter says these residents are often unnoticed by their neighbors.
“Because they don’t see a lot of tents, or they don’t see a lot of folks sleeping out under bridges, they assume that we don’t have a homeless problem, but we have a lot of folks that are sleeping in abandoned homes. We have some that are sleeping in bathrooms. We have some that walk in Walmart all night. We have some that go sit in the hospitals all night.”
One mother was recently found sitting in McDonald’s because she didn’t have anywhere else to go.
“One mom said she really didn’t know what to do. She didn’t have transportation, her children, they were staying with a family member, and she said, ‘I made the call to you.’ ”
Groups like the Columbus Community Outreach Program and the Golden Triangle Regional Homeless Coalition, step in to house the homeless.
They find that many of the wandering people are forced to the streets for a variety of reasons.
“Many people in our community are one paycheck away from being homeless, and so you know, if they lose their job, or have a medical issue, they are on the streets, or if there is a divorce, or a conflict in a relationship,” says Golden Triangle Regional Homeless Coalition member, Sandra Depriest.
Buckhalter believes not having a shelter in the Golden Triangle creates problems, especially when temperatures drop into the teens.
“We have folks, not just from Columbus, but they are coming from other places. Sometimes, they can’t get to Tupelo. They can’t get to Birmingham. They can’t get to Meridian.”
Organizations say it’s easy to say a community needs a shelter, but other details must be in place before that happens.
“The primary issue is staffing and funding, you know, it’s one thing to build it, but another thing to staff it. So, we’ve got to have ongoing staffing funds, as well as building funds,” says Depriest.
The Golden Triangle Regional Homeless Coalition says one of their main goals is to get a shelter here in the Friendly City.
They’ve already started raising funds, but it’s going to take a lot more, which are why contributions are much needed.
If you would like to donate to the homeless shelter efforts, or even pay around $40 bucks to give a homeless person or family a warm place to stay, contact Community Outreach Director Glenda Buckhalter, or mail money to the Golden Triangle Regional Homeless Coalition at P.O. Box 303 Columbus, 39701.