Possible homeless shelter in early discussions

Published 9:13 pm Friday, June 3, 2016

The need for a homeless shelter in Selma is being discussed by the city and several partners.

Selma Mayor George Evans said the shelter is something that the city has needed for a while but that the idea is just being discussed for the time being.

“The project is in its early stages right now. There is a lot of information we don’t have,” Evans said.

There isn’t a lot of data on the number of homeless people in Selma but a study by Veterans Affairs a few years ago showed there were about 15 veterans in Selma who were considered homeless.

“We’re trying to pull all of the numbers together and get some agencies to get involved who would like to help with the project. It’s a work in progress,” Evans said.

Funding would need to be secured. Possible sources include grants and donations for supporting agencies.

Lt. Natasha Fowlkes is head of training and recruitment at the Selma Police Department and said she believes a homeless shelter would have a positive impact on the crime rate.

“I have seen people all the time who need somewhere to stay. The crime rate would decrease because fewer homeless people would be breaking into businesses and stealing,” Fowlkes said. “This would give them a place to stay and somewhere to eat.”

Selma City School System Superintendent Dr. Angela Mangum said she has seen homelessness take a toll on children throughout city schools.

“Unfortunately, homelessness is a reality in most communities and students are often victims of these circumstances. I think a homeless shelter would be beneficial to the city,” Mangum said.

She said the shelter could possibly help students do better in school by alleviating depression and stress of not having a place to call home.

“Children are cognizant of the difficulties they have in life. When they are worried and concerned about basic needs, such as housing or food, it impacts their learning,” Mangum said.

The next meeting about the project will be June 24 at the Edmundite Missions, located at 1428 Broad St. from 10 a.m. to noon and is open to the community.