Advocates Ask Legislature to Create Committe Aimed at Ending Child HomelessnessBy Daniel Cherry | Published 19 Sep 2011 07:09pm |
Advocates say Mississippi's problem with child homelessness costs the state hundreds of millions of dollars each year. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how people in positions to make a change are asking the state legislature for help.
It is estimated there are more than 12 thousand Mississippi children considered homeless. Trey Jones is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Association of Habitat for Humanity Affiliates. He says the state needs to improve on how it cares for families who have nowhere else to turn and makes the example of a stay at home mother who gets divorced, can't find a job, and doesn't receive her child support.
"Is it her fault? Is it the child's fault? Even if it's the father's fault for not paying it, what are you going to do with that woman now? How do we help her? I think opening our eyes, seeing it for what it is, realizing that these are our neighbors."
The Mississippi Campaign to End Child Homelessness is pushing a bill that would create an interagency oversight committee aimed at organizing groups already working on finding permanent housing for the homeless. Tuwanna Williams is the state coordinator for the campaign. She says organization at the state level would cure much of the inefficiency.
"The agencies don't appear to be talking with one another. So if we can get our legislators to pass a bill that would create this interagency council on homelessness, then the agencies would absolutely work together."
Fewer than 25 percent of homeless children graduate high school, which leads to higher incarceration rates, and more dependency on the state throughout their lives. Steve Holland is the Chairman of the House Public Health Committee. He says caring for children early on can alleviate some of the burden down the road.
"It's another one of those many problems that this state suffers from, and we never run out of those challenges. I think the legislature plays a role in at least providing the coordination, and I think that's all these people are asking for."
The bill failed in the legislature last session.
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