According to a count that was done by the group Mississippi United to End Homelessness two years ago, there were 173 homeless individuals in Lauderdale County at that time. However, because many people live in wooded areas and abandoned houses, who were likely not counted, local estimates are that there are possibly more than 500 people in Lauderdale County who don't have a home.
To address this issue the head of the People's Charity Clinic in Meridian says that she has put in bids to purchase 16 abandoned houses in Meridian that have been taken over by the state. Christie Rainer says her plan is to transform those structures into community living spaces.
"They're sharing utilities; they're sharing the food, and things like that," says Rainer. "This will just give them a place to live where they can have showers and a space, a common living area, and bathroom, and a private place to sleep."
If the bids are approved, Rainer says the houses will help people who don't have enough money to make ends meet.
"We have some that are on social security. They're bringing in approximately $731 a month, who are homeless. That's not enough for housing, and utilities, and so we have that section. We also have the working poor, who are working 24 hours a week that are making minimum wage, they cannot afford housing at all."
Rainer says she put in the bids this past fall. She was told that it would likely take anywhere from 60 to 90 days to find out if they are approved. With that being the case, she expects to find out if the bids for her agency are approved by February.
Currently there are two homeless shelters in Meridian; South Harbor is for families, and the Salvation Army's shelter is for men only. Those two shelters have a total of 57 beds.