We knew it wouldn’t be long and it has begun. The calls are starting to come in about where those that are homeless can sleep tonight.
Unfortunately, with the closing for the season of Jackson County Cold Night Out, there are no immediate shelters in Jackson County. Anchor House is our only shelter at this point and there is a waiting list to get in. Plus, it is for families only.
So where does everyone go? If they want to stay in Jackson County, they look for friends or family to couch surf with. Or if they can’t do that, they sleep in vehicles (if they have them), or camp rough if they don’t.
Some manage to scrape up money to stay in the motels out by Interstate 65, but that isn’t ideal as they pay lots more than rent or a mortgage for that matter. (Double Down Outreach doesn’t pay for motel rooms. We don’t have money to help to that degree. Nor would we advocate for this as a solution, temporary or otherwise.)
Jackson County is job rich and housing poor.
Our team is advocating for change along with several other groups. The problem is still what do we do with those in need now? Unfortunately, the only thing we can suggest is to look outside of our county for emergency or transitional housing at this time.
For those of you that think this is a great idea, you forget that these individuals tend to work the jobs that you need done such as service, fast food, or gas stations. Just ask those managers how hard it is to get people to work and you will see if we don’t address this problem with a long term solution, we are cutting the proverbial throat of our economy.
Our industrial development team can woo whomever they want and get them here, but without a labor force that has adequate housing, they won’t be able to sustain that business.
Bottom line: we regret to inform you, there is no place we can offer you to put a roof over your head, provide a safe place to sleep, bathe, and eat. Our hearts break to say this, but we can’t help you with emergency shelter right now in Jackson County.
Karen Browning of Seymour is a minister with Double Down Outreach and executive director of Waymaker Ministries. Send comments to [email protected]