GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - For years, efforts to help the homeless in South Mississippi has focused on temporary fixes. Lately, there have been greater efforts to find more permanent solutions to get people off the street.
It will be called a Community Center of Hope. The Salvation Army will build eight apartments designed to provide not only temporary shelter to families, but additional services to give them a new lease on life.
“We want them to gain hope and have hope for the future because of the changes they go through as they participate in the case work, the interviews and the job search programs that will be the wrap-around services helping them forward,” said Maj. Bradley Caldwell, Mississippi Area Director of the Gulf Coast Salvation Army .
Caldwell explained that the philosophy of agencies helping the homeless has evolved over the years into what they now call impact programs.
“In today’s economy, in today’s social climate, an impact program is more preferred over a traditional dormitory sheltering,” said Caldwell. “So we’re essentially giving the community what it has asked for to provide as a service, and I think we are providing what people most need more than just to be held for a while three hots and a cot of old, but to have somebody help them become what they can with a little bit of assistance.”
The Salvation Army will be working with the Open Doors Homeless Coalition, but they also hope to get assistance from others in the community.
“It is a community issue that we want the community to help engage,” said Caldwell. “We anticipate that churches and social groups will adopt rooms in the community center of hope to upgrade the linens and other supplies that will be purchased and passed along to the families as they come through. So it is a community effort as well as a Salvation Army program.”
The Community Center of Hope will be built next to the Salvation Army’s Chapel on 22nd Street in Gulfport. The Salvation Army hopes to have a groundbreaking on April 19, and have the Community Center of Hope built in a year.