Mississippi Gulf Coast making strides in helping homeless vets - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Mississippi Gulf Coast making strides in helping homeless vets

The cities now have resources to help any veteran who needs housing. (Photo source: WLOX News) The cities now have resources to help any veteran who needs housing. (Photo source: WLOX News)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

The mayors of Biloxi and Gulfport got a personal congratulatory call from federal HUD Secretary Julian Castro on Thursday for “effectively ending homelessness among veterans".

However, that doesn't mean there are no homeless vets in the two cities. What it does mean is the cities now have resources to help any veteran who needs housing.

“Had I not come here, I don't know, I'd probably be dead today,” said Rodney Frelix.

Instead, the grateful Army vet has another chance at life.

Thanks to the homeless help program at the Biloxi VA, Frelix is now living in an apartment and going through a workforce training program.

Both are quite a change from his life of homelessness and addiction on the streets of New Orleans.

“Being homeless, I put myself in so many places that I shouldn't have been. Dangerous places in New Orleans where my life could have been taken at any time," said Frelix. "Eating out of garbage cans, going days without a bath even; not taking care of my personal hygiene. Some days not even eating.”

Frelix says he can now look toward his future with hope; something that was painfully missing less than a year ago.

“Maybe if they see that a drunk, a homeless person like myself can do it, then that will give them some hope where they can do the same thing,” Frelix added. “I was homeless, hopeless, jobless. A convicted felon. And addicted to substance.”

Alex Stallworth shares a similar story. He, too, found help and housing through the Biloxi VA. Stallworth says he traded years of hopelessness, crime and substance abuse for a promising new beginning.

“Whenever there's homelessness, hopelessness is right beside it. And hopelessness doesn't just affect the individual, but it affects everybody in the community, everyone who's in touch with that person. Cause when you're hopeless, you have no hope. You don't care for you or the person next to you,” said Stallworth.

Stallworth is now married and works at the VA - the very place that helped restore his hope and self-worth.

Both veterans say their desire now is to help others who may still be struggling on the streets.

“I tell any veteran, man, don't give up. Take one day at a time," said Freix. "And go see the VA.”

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