Thousands of children in state are homeless - - Jackson, MS

Thousands of children in state are homeless

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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – It's roughly the number of people living in an average Mississippi city, more than 12,000.

According to a recent study by the National Center on Family Homelessness, that's how many children don't have homes in the state.

A homeless mother with children finds herself among those statistics.

Sherrita is in a Jackson shelter with two small children.

Her two year old and six month old are one of the thousands of homeless children in Mississippi.

"It's killing me because I don't have a job right now."

The 22 year old wasn't working when she and her children's father separated.

She's been at the shelter three months.

"I don't mind working and I know I'm gonna have to pay my bills for my children so they can have somewhere to lay their head so I know that's what I'm going to have to do. I have to find a job first to get where I want to go," said Sherrita.

The National Center on Family Homelessness study reports that based on 2008-09 school year data more than 12,100 children were homeless in Mississippi.

The organization presented a plan Wednesday to end homelessness by increasing public awareness, informing state and local policies and plans and improving programs and services for the children and families.

"Children who are homeless are much more likely to have acute and chronic illnesses. They're more likely to have learning disabilities. They are more likely to show delayed development," said Christina Murphy director of the National Campaign to End Homelessness.

"We need to know that it is a large and growing part of our population," said Mississippi Sen. Hillman Frazier.

The Chairman of the Committee on Housing spoke to the group Wednesday and is working to implement the plan.

The Mississippi Campaign to End Child Homelessness knows it is a daunting task.

"Keep in mind some of the counties have not even reported their numbers, so we believe that those numbers are under represented," said Tuwanna Williams, State Coordinator of the Mississippi Campaign to End Child Homelessness.

They rely on school districts for information on children without homes.

According to Jackson Public Schools, there were 1,163 homeless students in the district during the 2009-2010 school year.

"We absolutely can not house that many children so what's happening is a lot of children are bunking up with aunts, aunties, grandmothers and this is how the school identifies them as being homeless. There are three and four families in one household," said Williams.

Meanwhile, Sherrita remains encouraged by her children despite the struggling economic climate.

"They need Mama's support so they just keep me going every day," said the young mother.

On January 24th of next year, officials said volunteers will canvas the state to count the homeless for the Continuum of Care federal funding program.

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