County to work for more money for homeless women’s shelter|[05/18/07]

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 18, 2007

Operators of the recently established Women’s Restoration Shelter plan a second facility for homeless women with another assist from Warren County.

Supervisors indicated Thursday the county will be a conduit to secure more than $230,000 in grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to jump-start a 10-unit, rent-assisted home for those its operators call &#8220chronically homeless.”

&#8220These are women who have a home for a while and then they’re homeless again,” director Tina Hayward said, adding those housed will be helped with mental health and substance-abuse rehabilitation.

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The shelter is a faith-based initiative, and Hayward said the ministry will renovate a house on Martha Street where the existing shelter was to be originally. A start-up grant from the Mississippi Department of Human Services was instead used on a two-story house on Old Cain Ridge Road.

That house will continue to house women 18 and older not in need of special services and their children 16 and under, Hayward said.

The grant total of $233,766 is based on a HUD initiative to end homelessness in Hinds, Rankin, Madison, Copiah and Warren counties and in Jackson in five years. According to a government sampling in January, about 700 people were confirmed to be either homeless or in transitional housing for the homeless in the five-county area.

If approved, rent will be paid for the facility’s residents based on three-fourths of the Fair Market Rent for Warren County, totaling $360.75 monthly.

Supervisors questioned Hayward and current shelter volunteer Sherry Andrews on the county’s homeless population and the county’s precise role in the application process.

&#8220We have a lot of transients who come through, especially since (Hurricane) Katrina,” Andrews said.

The money would come into an account administered by the county and handed over to the ministry. As the shelter fills, the money flows. But, responding to queries by Board President Richard George and District 1 Supervisor David McDonald, Hayward said money dedicated to a tenant who leaves suddenly can be rolled over to cover tenants who stay.

A grant administrator may also be needed, County Administrator John Smith said.

&#8220It’s a good thing,” District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon said. &#8220We’ve had our heads in the sand on homelessness.”

Originally, Hayward planned a 14-bed facility when the ministry was considering tending to children, an idea since dropped.

Hayward has said about 250 women and children have been housed at Women’s Restoration Shelter since it opened in 2005.

It is a tax-exempt Mississippi charity and relies on donations. This year, the Warren County Board of Supervisors pledged $272,500 to a group of 10 charitable organizations, to be paid quarterly this fiscal year.

While the shelter was not one of them, Hayward has sought annual public funding to operate the facility from the City of Vicksburg and Warren County.