By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – A new municipal task force could begin meeting immediately to study Tupelo’s homelessness problem and identify appropriate solutions.
Mayor Jack Reed Jr. will recommend four appointments to the City Council today: former Aircap Industries employee Sam Bell, Tupelo physician Brian Condit, Salvation Army Social Services Director Susan Gilbert and All Saints’ Episcopal Church Rector Paul Stephens.
The council must vote to approve the appointments before they become official. A fifth member will be appointed at a later date, Reed said.
“My hope is that we can get a clear picture of the current situation of homeless people in our city,” Reed said, “and then get a candid description of what … we can do.”
The task force was formed at the urging of several council members, including Jim Newell of Ward 3 and Nettie Davis of Ward 4. They said that despite existing services, the city needed to take a more active role in helping this often-ignored population.
“It’s really a complicated problem,” Reed said. “Many have drug or alcohol problems, others have mental health problems. And then again, many others don’t.”
The task force will operate similar to the now-inactive Public Transportation Committee, whose volunteer members studied the city’s need for public transit and issued a report on the matter.
Reed said the group could start its work immediately.