Homelessness better, but litter more visible in neighborhood by Hwy 49 Walmart

Homelessness better, but litter more visible in neighborhood by Hwy 49 Walmart

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The City of Hattiesburg cleared a homeless encampment area by the Walmart on Highway 49 in January.

Twelve of the 16 individuals found out in the woods have been placed into case management housing programs through MUTEH (Mississippi United to End Homelessness).

In addition to placing these people in permanent homes, MUTEH teaches individuals how to budget and apply for medical aid. The organization also has a Rapid Response Outreach team that helps those that refuse to find housing.

Hattiesburg's outreach team meets with the remaining four homeless individuals on a bi-weekly basis.

"Shelters are great short-term because they're getting people out of the elements," said Homeless Coordinator, Kim Townsend. "Ideally we want people to be in long-term housing solutions that way they can stabilize their addictions."

Adjacent from the old encampment area is the Arcadia-Sunset neighborhood. Residents said there's less of a homeless population in the area, but litter has become more visible since the clearing.

"If we call the police, they'll leave and they'll come back," said Jerra Allen, president of the Arcadia-Sunset neighborhood association. "They know right there they can get the money that they need, the resources that they need to continue doing their 'job' right there on the corner."

Arcadia-Sunset's entrance has cans, a blanket and a sign that reads, "Any can...thank you." tucked in the left hand corner.

"I believe the city has plans for right down the road, but as of right now that's the best they can do," said Allen.

The outreach program does offer housing services when out on location.