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Where can homeless families go for housing and stay together?

By Kearn Cherry |

A few years ago, my husband and I were taking a drive when we saw a couple walking in downtown Gulfport. My husband thought the pair might be homeless and decided to ask if they needed a ride.  They indeed were homeless and were trying to get to Pascagoula. They had heard that one of the shelters there had an opening.

Well, the drive there was wasted. The shelter not only didn’t have an opening, but it did not take men. After driving back to Biloxi and checking several other locations, we realized there was no place that would take both men and women. We decided to help them by placing them in a hotel. Our church assisted as well. They later were able to find a place to stay and a job.

This experience was a real eye-opener for us.  I realized this was a real problem. Where could homeless couples go for temporary housing? So, when I was approached a year and half ago to serve on the board for Rebekah’s House, I was very interested. I learned that Rebekah House is the only place across the Coast offering housing to homeless families.

Rebekah House assists families up to 60 days with the possibility of an extension, depending on the circumstances.  In the short period of time that I have been on the board, I have seen several families come in and successfully find a place to stay and employment.

Rebekah’s House, a non-profit organization, was started pre-Hurricane Katrina by about 18 churches from across the Coast who saw the issue homeless families were facing. After Hurricane Katrina, Rebekah House was able to purchase a home that can house up to three families at one time. In addition to housing, families are provided other resources and assistance with finding housing and employment.

Ocean Springs – Long Beach Interfaith Hospitality Network operates Rebekah’s House.

Did you know that many families are one step away from joining the homeless population? Families make up 40 percent of the homeless population. One of every four homeless people is a child. Rebekah’s House allows teenaged boys to stay with their family; it allows two-parent families with children to stay together.

Homelessness happens to so many people who thought it would never be them. A job loss, injury, natural disaster, health-care costs, insufficient employment all can push a family off into homelessness.

These families need our help. We can make a difference one family at a time.

For more information on Rebekah’s House, call (228) 388-3061.