Update on Meridian's Homeless Crisis

Meridian, Miss. Dozens of Meridian's homeless, including children, were without a bed Monday night, after city officials refused to approve a donated building as shelter. Newscenter 11 found many of the children trying to sleep wherever they could, several in cars.

A local agency called the The People's Charity Clinic thought a donated 55,000 square foot building was a short-term answer for the displaced families. But the city said "no", saying more information is needed before it could approve the shelter.

Christie Rainer of The People's Charity Clinic says she and dozens of homeless residents were very grateful when Rush Hospital stepped in to donate the use of the old Long's Wholesale building on Front Street in Meridian .

Rainer expected to open that shelter Monday but says city officials say they were unable to approve it. That's when those hoping for shelter took their pleas to Meridian City Hall. The agency has been placing families in local hotels, but not only has money run out, most hotels are now declining the homeless families. The group showed up late Monday afternoon on the lawn of City Hall to try to get some help.

"We don't have a place for them, we don't have a solution tonight." explained Rainer. "Need someone out there to come up with an answer for me because all my options are gone and I have no options."

Kala Dasma says she needs help for her children. "We became completely homeless after sleeping in our cars for a few days.Then we found The Peoples Charity and Mrs. Christy has done more then enough for our family." (Reporter: "What do you want happen here today?") Dasma broke down in tears and responded, "I want us to be able to get a building so we can have somewhere safe to sleep."

Rainer says city officials told her the building does not have enough bathrooms. The South Harbor Shelter in Meridian is not an option, because it is currently closed for renovations, and the Salvation Army shelter is limited to men.

Anyone who would like to help in any way may call 601-917-2673 or 601-482-8442.

Meridian's Community Development Director John McClure told Newscenter 11 that the city still needs more information in order to be able to move forward, including some information from the State of Mississippi as well as a letter from the building's owner, Rush Hospital. McClure says the city is concerned about what he calls "a tragic situation" and does want to help.