Local shelters offer help from cold conditions

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Bone chilling conditions are prompting many people to seek a warm place to go.

"I don't know what I'd do, if I didn't stay here," says Ponzola Wash from Newton County. She is one of 22 people who stayed at Meridian's only shelter for families Sunday night.

"It's very important for us to have a place to go to," says Wash.

Both family units at the Frances W. Davidson Center for Homelessness were filled early Monday. However, the center's weekend and holiday director says there's still room.

"I really was surprised this weekend because I worked this weekend," says James Moss. "We had two clients that came by, and all they wanted to do was take a shower. They didn't want to stay."

Moss says the center's strict policies, which include background checks and no tolerance for substance abuse, might be reasons why some people choose not to seek shelter there.

"You've got to have rules and regulations," says Moss. "You can't come in high. You can't come in drunk, and you've got to go by the rules."

"We have to be in by 7 o'clock in the evening time. That's how strict they are. Ha/ha," says Wash.

The Frances W. Davidson Center for Homelessness is located at 2900 St. Paul Street. It can house up to two families of four and 24 other men and women.

As of mid-day Monday shelter officials said they were prepared to take in even more people. If needed they say there are portable couches that can be pulled out and put into hallways and the sitting room at the center. In all, they say those couches can accommodate up to at least 15 additional people.

"We'll take anybody in when it's cold like this, and they can just stay until the next day," says Moss.

There is one other homeless shelter in Meridian. It's The Salvation Army's Shelter for Men, which has 30 beds.