Homeless Shelter Coming To Gulfport As MS Cottages

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - For years people who found themselves living on the streets in Gulfport have had few places to turn. But that will soon change.

In the next few weeks, the Salvation Army will open a new, temporary homeless shelter for men, made up of Mississippi Cottages.

Gulfport resident Willie Lee said, "I'm a man that's on check disability once a month. When I couldn't eat, I had to come up here and get me a plate of food."

In the three years since losing the 24th Street homeless shelter to Hurricane Katrina, Salvation Army leaders have been raising money to both build a new shelter, and renovate and operate a temporary shelter.

"It's been very difficult to find a building that we could rehab that would be suitable and would be approved by everybody - the Salvation Army, the city council, the mayor's office," said Salvation Army Major Will Cundiff.

Now, Cundiff says, his organization has found a shelter solution that the city of Gulfport supports. Soon brightly colored flags on the old thrift store site will be replaced by Mississippi cottages.

"We were able to work out a deal with MEMA and they're going to give us six of the MEMA cottages and we're going to place them on this site, and we'll be taking men in on this site," Major Cundiff said.

The Salvation Army said will provide food, so men who stay in the cottages will be able to cook for themselves. They say the homeless shelter will provide more than just a hand out.

"We're not going to just take people in and let them sleep and go somewhere else," said Major Cundiff. "We're looking to do long term case work on each individual, and hope to take them from homeless all the way to tax paying citizens that have a place to live."

The Salvation Army has permission to house the men in the cottages until March of 2009. Homeless women will be housed at another undisclosed location.