“Jackson’s Homeless/Mental Health Crisis” – City Council Wrap Up 9/1/2020

On Tuesday night, the City Council debated whether an order awarding a grant to Stewpot community services for providing emergency shelter services would be beneficial to the quality of life for Jackson’s residents, ultimately passing the item with a vote of 6-0.

Councilman Stokes expressed his support for the city’s ability to provide shelter to homeless and those in need, but expressed a clear concern with some of the negative effects that have accompanied the recent increase in Jackson’s homeless population. Specifically in reference to the area where Stewpot (organization being given more funds) operates.  Stokes stated, “It has created a problem because some of them are good but some others are bad .. the whole area has now become a dump zone”. Stokes pointed to the increase in drug use that he attributes, in part, to the homeless and transient population; They are taking property Jackson public school owns. Shooting dope, heroin, kids going into abandoned buildings “

Councilman Tillman echoed councilman’s Stoke’s concerns, specifically about the transient portion of Jackson’s homeless community;  “It’s like they’re coming every day.. (it’s getting like) tent cities in places like Heathrow and LA but a lot of ours are spread out, under bridges”.

Councilman Stamps also voiced concern about the impact the influx in the homeless/transient population is having on Jackson; “I have never seen this many people in that state of life in South Jackson, and now it’s everywhere” Stamps pointed out neighboring law enforcement agencies practice of releasing inmates with mental illness into the Jackson population, as well as landlords from other places who rent houses out to people from this demographics, as factors that are facilitating a population shift in Jackson. ; “Its really hurting us trying to repopulate our cities with people that have jobs and are working because people don’t want to live around people who are in certain situations”  

While  conceding  that “you are always going to have some people that are bent on wrong”, Mayor Lumumba noted that “when people need help they go to where help is, and Stewpot is a long-standing institution in Jackson.”

Lumumba went further to say that the administration is currently taking proactive steps, as evidenced in their recent talks with the Jackson resource center and other institutions about the Caple street property and potentially transitioning it into a one-stop shop that can help people in these situations. “ I think that the best effort that we can have to see the result we desire not only for the aesthetic appeal of the city but for the holistic..is to create the services that help support them”

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