Poverty Level

Thursday, local supervisors joined the president of the National Community Action Partnership in signing a memorandum of agreement vowing to work together in the fight against poverty.

Although it may come as a shock to some, local officials say the poverty rate in the Meridian area is now 28 percent, with many having jobs.

"There are people that are working two jobs because of their family size and still are poor, very poor!"

Callie Cole is Executive Director for Multi-County Community Service Agency in Meridian. Of the nine counties her office serves, she says many of their clients are members of the working poor.

"Probably about 50 to 60%."

In saying the "working poor," Cole says she's referring to families whose household income is less than 14-thousand dollars a year, some even as low as $5,000.

Williams Mitchell knows all too well about this. For the first time in his life, he is now staying in a shelter.

Mitchell moved to Meridian three months ago. With no children to take care of, both he and his wife work still don't make enough. Now employed at a local manufacturing plant, Mitchell says his hours have been cut so much that he cannot afford housing.

"Yeah, it is rough! I've got a job and can't hardly pay rent. So, I'm here in the shelter until I can save up enough money for a deposit and pay the first month's rent and get the lights and gas turned on. I know a bunch of people that can't come up with $450 just like that and by the time you do save up enough money. They’ve rented it to someone else and you're back to square one."

"I think people need to stop saying we don't have poverty and it's not that bad and really look at what's going on because we do need help," says Cole.