Groups rally for Waveland cottage dwellers

By Al Showers - bio | email

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Two national social justice organizations brought their voices to Hancock County Monday. The Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, based in Minnesota, and the Social Welfare Action Alliance of Tennessee sent representatives to Waveland.

The groups are trying to rally support for those who want to make Mississippi Cottages permanent homes. Cheri Honkala helped to organize the rally because of what she calls a reluctance by elected leaders to allow the Mississippi Cottages to become permanent homes.

"I'm with the Poor People's Economic Human Right's Campaign. I'm a formerly homeless mother and I'm very passionate about this issue.You dare touch any of these families, we'll come make Mississippi our home. We will set up tents. We will go to jail," Honkala said.

The protestors then paused for prayer. Rev. Bruce Wright with Refuge Ministries of Florida said, "I believe firmly that people that claim to follow Jesus should be concerned about people having a place to live, and not being put out on the streets."

The rally sparked a counter protest from people who don't want to see the cottages become permanent.

"Not everybody's for this. Not everybody's for the cottages next to their houses that they built brand new and spent thousands and hundreds of thousands and their whole grant money. Some people are responsible, some people are not," Waveland resident Scott Peterson said.

John and Silvia Peterson said, "Why not go into a trailer park? No, they think they're too good for that."

Waveland Resident Mary Sherrouse says it's not her fault the cottage has become a necessity.

"I have tried to rebuild, but had to let go of a contractor that wasn't building to code and lacking some money because of it. And I love my MEMA cottage and am just horrified to think people are so, the city is so heartless to want to throw us out," Sherrouse said.

Bayside Park resident David Winkles agrees.

"Don't put the old people, the sick people, the people with no place to go, the people with kids out on the streets - don't send them to trailer parks. Do the right thing. Let them have MEMA cottages on their own property," Winkles said.

City and county leaders have taken steps to allow the cottages to become permanent. But cottage-dwellers are concerned that the rules will be so strict they will not qualify.