Extra space for homeless to be closed

By Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – After a month and a half of accommodating overflow due to the cold, Tupelo’s Salvation Army on Friday morning will put away the mattresses in its community center and ask folks to find some other place to stay.
As of 8 a.m. Friday, the nonprofit will stop making available the extra space it offered in the gymnasium to area homeless who sought shelter from freezing temperatures and record-breaking snowfall.
The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Lodge normally houses 19 residents, but as temperatures plummeted in mid-December, the Army decided it couldn’t turn anyone away.
At one point, 39 residents were staying on the Carnation Street campus. That necessitated around-the-clock supervision and raised utility costs. About 31 of those residents remained as of Wednesday.
Those costs came at a time when the organization was already struggling to stay afloat due to decreased donations.
Susan Gilbert, director of social services, said she isn’t eager to put anyone out, but the Army’s resources only go so far.
Those least able to make it on the outside without help, like 63-year-old resident Woodrow will be allowed to stay temporarily.
Woodrow suffers from a variety of health problems, but he’s put in his paperwork to receive Section 8 housing.
“They’ve treated me mighty nice here,” said Woodrow, who cleans up each day to help earn his keep.
“I hate to see some of my friends go, but I think they’ll be OK, and maybe it will stay warm.”
If Tupelo receives the snow that’s forecasted for Thursday night, Gilbert said, Salvation Army will reassess the situation.
Contact Galen Holley at (662) 678-1510 or galen.holley@journalinc.com.