Today marks the kickoff of a national effort to count the number of people who are homeless in the U.S. For the next five days this count will be conducted by agencies throughout the country. In Meridian, officials from Multi-County Community Service Agency will count the number of people who do not have homes tomorrow.
That count will be done at Love's Kitchen on 18th. Avenue during the breakfast and lunch hours. Facilitated by Multi-County Community Service Agency, people who go for a hot meal at Love's Kitchen will be given a survey.
"We will be doing a survey that Mississippi United to End Homelessness has done for us and we'll be asking questions such as where did you sleep on the night of January 22nd? Did you sleep in a car? Did you sleep on the street? Did you sleep in the woods? Did you sleep in a shelter?' says MCCSA Housing Director, Marcy Ann Reynolds. She goes on to say that the information collected will be used in efforts to improve services for locals who do not have a home.
"The reason we need to do this is in order to get more public and private funding for local areas in order to serve the homeless people. We want to be able to get these funds, especially in Mississippi, so that we can better serve our homeless population."
Aside from the survey, MCCSA officials will also provide locals who are homeless with packets that are filled with daily essentials such as toothpaste and toothbrushes that have been donated by local businesses. They will also be given a special key.
"This 'Homeless Key,' is called a Homeless Resource Directory and you plug this key into a computer at the library, or at some of the shelters, you'll also have access to the key at MCCSA where we have a room where you have access to a computer. This (key) provides a homeless individual with information about resources that are available to them within their local area."
According to the last survey that was done by Mississippi United To End Homelessness, two years ago 2,306 people were homeless in Mississippi. Of those 1,056 were staying in sort of shelter and 1,250 were not being housed in any type of shelter. During that same year, 173 individuals were homeless in Lauderdale County.