BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Most coast cities have experienced homelessness, including the City of Biloxi. Is the homeless population interfering with business and tourism?
Summertime is tourism season, and a favorite location for visitors is the Biloxi Lighthouse. Within the shadow of the lighthouse, you can often find homeless people.
Clifford Jackson has been living on the streets since he relocated to South Mississippi from California five months ago. Where does he stay?
"On the pier. On the benches, "said Jackson. He said it was tough but added, "It's OK. It's all good. The Lord will put no more on me than I can bear."
Jackson said he has applied for Section 8 housing. A few weeks ago, I did a story on Section 8 housing, and I was told there's a three-year waiting list. That doesn't bode well for Jackson.
The Schooner Pier is another location where the homeless hang out, and you can also see homeless people sleeping on benches in the Biloxi downtown area.
Ivory Holmes is homeless. I found him sitting under a shady oak tree trying to stay out of the sun. Where does he sleep at night?
"Any place that is dry, warm, comfortable," said Holmes.
Holmes said he sees light at the end of the tunnel.
"Yes, I do, "said Holmes. "I know I have a good heart, and God is on my shoulder and guides me in doing positive and right things. He has shown me the light, and in the next few days we won't be homeless no more."
Biloxi spokesman Vincent Creel said there are three reasons why the homeless have congregated in the area.
"Number one is people," said Creel. Number two is money, and number three, there's a soup kitchen downtown that attracts a lot of homeless people, people who are down on their luck."
Creel said the city is trying to deal humanely with the homeless.
"What we're trying to do is be sensitive to everybody. Protect everybody's rights, those people who are visitors, those of the people who are homeless. Frankly, our residents and our businesses," said Creel. "The businesses have been real appreciative that we have inaugurated the Bike Patrol. It increases the presence of the police."
One pair living on the streets in Biloxi is a married couple. They have been homeless for six years. They said they might be heading for Arizona, because they have better facilities for homeless people.
Most of the homeless spend time at Loaves and Fishes on Waters St. in Biloxi for meals.