Surely we can do more for the homeless

Published 9:56 pm Thursday, November 2, 2017

When the newspaper first started asking what services are available to homeless people in Brookhaven, the response was usually “We don’t have any homeless people.”

We knew that was not the case since the occasional homeless person could be seen sleeping underneath an overpass or wandering a street.

Thankfully, when we asked this week the response was different. And that’s progress. To begin addressing a problem like homelessness, the community has to first recognize that the problem exists.

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Police Chief Kenneth Collins said his department does the best it can to help the homeless, but without a shelter there is only so much that can be done.

“I always tell my officers to be nice and try to help them,” he said. “We try to get them something to eat, but we really can’t do much else other than that because we don’t have a place for them to go.”

“I’m unsure on how many homeless people we actually have. Most of the time they will usually be back on the interstate and gone within a couple of days,” said Collins.

At one point, a non-profit in Brookhaven operated a homeless shelter, but it closed several years ago.

Rev. Jerry Durr, with Brookhaven Outreach Ministries, said a lack of resources caused him to close the shelter, which was located at the old St. James M.B. Church on Minnesota Street.

Other groups provide blankets, food and clothes for the homeless when they can.

The closest shelter is located in Jackson, which might as well be New York for a homeless person without food or transportation.

We are grateful for those who help feed and clothe the less fortunate, but can more be done? Surely a community as blessed as Brookhaven can find a way to offer more to individuals in desperate need of a temporary roof over their heads.