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Some Homeless in Mississippi Get a Hand Up

By Daniel Cherry | Published 18 Mar 2011 09:44am | comments

Homelessness is on the rise in Mississippi. Estimates say there are nearly seven hundred people in the city of Jackson alone who don't have a roof over their head. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports on how some programs are lending a helping hand.

At a ceremony to congratulate participants who successfully competed a homeless transitional program, 15 people had plenty to be happy about. They all recently transitioned from homelessness to stable housing and employment though a program by the city of Jackson. George Usher was homeless for about 5 months. He knows better than anyone what that pressure feels like.

"You don't know where you're going. You don't know where your next meal is coming from or you don't know where you're going to lay your head. That kind of gets to you, it bothers you. It puts you in a negative position you don't want to be in."

Unemployment is still up and that means more people aren't able to afford housing. Cathy Funches is the homeless coordinator for the city of Jackson. She says fixing the problem will require a full effort from the community.

"In the old days my momma used to say if somebody killed a pig or a cow everybody in the neighborhood ate from that cow. Now it's more about me, me, me because we're thinking about, 'I'm barely making ends meet myself I can't help anybody.'"

Funches says it doesn't take much to help out a person in need. George Usher was one of those who lost his job and realized soon after he didn't have anywhere to go. He says people need to have empathy for those who don't have a place to call home.

"If you see a person out on the street and they ask you for a dime, give it to them. Because you could be in that same situation someday. Now I used to think about it like that too until I got in that position. You see I've been up at the top and I've been down at the bottom and now I'm working my way back up."

Studies show every day there are nearly three thousand people living on the streets of Mississippi 

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