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Homelessness rising in South Mississippi

The latest survey on homelessness in South Mississippi shows 633 homeless people were living in the six southernmost counties in January and 80 percent of them were in Harrison County.

The survey indicates 40 percent have been homeless less than a year, said Scott Williams, case manager for the homeless served by Biloxi's Back Bay Mission.

The report is for the Continuum of Care, a community-based survey submitted every two years to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for reports to Congress on homelessness in America. The data gives a snapshot of "a point in time" on a given winter night, said Williams. The data is used for planning to resolve the problems of homelessness.

In comparison with a survey before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the number of homeless living without shelter in South Mississippi has increased 284 percent, said Williams.

The latest survey also shows 80 percent of the homeless documented in January claim they are from Harrison County.

"The majority aren't transients," Williams said. "They're local people and they're homeless. It's important data for city governments to realize. To put your head in the sand and say it isn't a problem is ludicrous."

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