Homeless Shelter in Danger of Closing

East Mississippi's only full-time shelter for families faces possible closure.

Officials with South Harbor Shelter in Meridian say it could be just a matter of months before they have to close the doors.

The problem is a lack of funding. Right now it's unknown if the shelter will receive money from the state for next year. Even if it does, officials say more funding will likely be needed.

Shelter director, Linda Jones, says the future is not looking good for the facility.

"We're way under budget, maybe by about $85,000," said Jones. "We're operating now off of donations."

Each year she says the shelter, which is capable of housing up to 34 people, receives about $75,000 in grant money from the state. At this time it's unknown if that money will be provided for next year.

"The shelter never receives enough money to operate, but we try to keep it open anyway, and we do this with donations from the community," said Multi-County Community Service Agency executive director Callie Cole.

"South Harbor Shelter is a United Way Agency. United Way has a certain portion that it gives to each agency every year, and beyond that, the agencies are really looking at government funding grants," said Sara Carmichael of United Way of East Mississippi. "When those are not given anymore, it does leave a big hole for those agencies to survive."

As the only full-time shelter open for men, women and children in east Mississippi, South Harbor officials say if more money is not raised the shelter could be closed by September and October of this year, when it's most needed.

To help raise money for the shelter, officials from South Harbor, MCCSA, United Way and a local event promoter are teaming up to sponsor a special concert.

"We're bringing some talent to this particular concert, said concert promoter Terrence Davis. "Byron Cage. He's a Stellar Award winner four years in a row and Gospel artist, David and the Giants. We're also putting together a community choir."

People interested in joining the community choir are asked to show up for the first practice next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Mt. Olive Baptist Church on 49th Avenue in Meridian.

The Save the Shelter Concert' will be June 8 at 7 p.m. at Evangel Temple in Meridian. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door, and may be purchased at The Bible Bookstore and Sam's Fashion.

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