Tupelo Fights to End Homelessness

March 12th, 2020     Community

Tupelo officials have initiated a Homeless Task Force to try and combat homelessness in the City. This task force is a joint effort with the mayor’s office, the Mississippi Balance of State Contuum of Service, and Mississippi United to End Homelessness. The goal is to provide support by finding sustainable housing, employment and mental health treatment if needed.

The Homeless Task Force was first introduced in 2012, but it was not fully supported by the people of Tupelo. The program was reinstated in 2017, and has since been working to end homelessness in Tupelo. The program has had success, bringing the homeless rate down by 20% between 2018 and 2019.

The organizations look for affordable housing in the city, and offer support based on a need by need basis. Hannah Maharrey, a task force member, told NEMiss.news that some clients need more assistance than others, and the goal is to make them self-sufficient. Housing that is provided is placed in the client’s name. After a designated period of time, the client is responsible for making payments toward their own rent, utilities, and other bills.

Employment

The task force is currently working with the city to provide employment for the homeless. People can sign up through Express Personnel, to take part in the city’s litter control. The Tupelo City Council will vote on the wages for the work, with the current rate being $9.00 an hour.

The program is also looking to offer financial counseling to clients. This service is designed to teach the importance of budgeting and being responsible with money earned.

With area homeless working through a staffing agency, there are given the opportunity for future jobs. The clean-up crews will be supervised, and these supervisors will report to the agency. If workers are willing to put forth the effort and are productive, they can be referred for other jobs later on. This also gives clients the chance to make connections and gain references.

Training

Training and education is also available for clients. Those that want to further their education can take part in a GED or certification program. The goal is to help clients get the training they need in order to work in an industry they are passionate about. This ensures longevity in the workforce.

How Can You Help

When asked how people can help, Maharrey said “being and advocate and de-stigmatizing homelessness goes a long way.” There are also opportunities to volunteer. The 1st Tuesday of every month, the outreach team meets with area homeless at the Lee County Library, for “Coffee and Conversation” at 9 am.  This is a chance to speak to clients on a human level, and talk to them about life and themselves. A chance to get to know one other. There is also a street outreach at 10 am. Mrs. Maharrey warned that this is not for the faint of heart, and that only those serious about helping should attend.

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