Hattiesburg homeless struggle in cold temperatures

Homeless folks stay in tents to keep warm
Homeless folks stay in tents to keep warm

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Wrapping pipes and bringing in your plants may seem like a hassle when cold weather strikes, but for some, the cold can be deadly.

Homelessness plagues many right here in the Pine Belt, and as temperatures plummet, organizations such as the Salvation Army step in to help.

The Salvation Army shelter in Hattiesburg housed 34 individuals Thursday night and its counterpart in Laurel sheltered six. The shelters open on Friday night at 5 p.m.

"I'm a war veteran and my work ran out back a few months ago and I lost my place to live," said Ed, a homeless man. "I'm staying at the Salvation Army tonight. Thank God for them so I can stay warm."

The shelters will stay open as long as temperatures stay below 40 degrees. The Salvation Army in Laurel also has a warming station that offers warm beverages and snacks.

Chris Wilkes, co-founder of Hope House Ministries, estimated that the homeless population in the Hattiesburg area is around 140 people.

"Hope House is really an outreach that meets on Saturday morning from 7:30 to 11:30 to give people that are living on the streets the things they need in order to survive," said Wilkes. "We give out a little bit of food but mostly clothing, blankets, stuff like that. We rely on the homeless community to spread the word that we are open and available on Saturday mornings. But we also need people who encounter homeless people to let them know, 'Hey, there's a place you can go to get the supplies that you need.'"

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