Charity Says, "You Don't Need A Home To Vote" - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/24/04

Charity Says, "You Don't Need A Home To Vote"

A local charity has joined a national initiative to help homeless people have a voice in government. This year Back Bay Mission in Biloxi will take part in the "You Don't Need A Home to Vote" campaign .

Wayne says life is a struggle. Like many people who live on the streets, he gets meals where he can. On Thursday he was at Loaves & Fishes.

"Most important thing to them is that day by day. Where are they gonna put a roof over their head? Where can they go and eat?" said Wayne. "They ain't got that."

Later this year, Back Bay Mission workers will visit soup kitchens and shelters and walk the streets to spread the message that voting is important. It's an issue that impacts everyone, including the homeless.

Dena Whittmann is helping to spearhead the program.

"Not only do we vote on candidates, we vote on public policy as well. It's getting that message out to people and that we do have a voice through the vote."

Although the details are still being worked out, Whittmann says the "You Don't Need a Home To Vote" campaign works by allowing people eligible to vote to list shelters and soup kitchens as addresses. Back Bay will also help fill out necessary paperwork.

"Many people have felt disenfranchised, whether in reality or not, by the fact that they feel that their vote does not make a difference," said Whittmann.

Wayne votes using a relative's address. He says many homeless people are hungry for a voice in their government.

"To be recognized is very important," said Wayne. "You don't want to be walking around here and don't nobody know nothing about you. A person will look at you and say 'That ain't nobody.' You don't need that."

Back Bay Mission will be holding voter registration drives during National Homeless Voter Registration Week which runs September 26 through October 2nd. They will also help transport people to the polls in November.

by Danielle Thomas

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