Separate shelter for homeless not necessary

Published 12:38 am Sunday, January 14, 2018

When bureaucracy gets in the way of being human, a problem clearly exists.

That’s exactly what occurred two weeks ago when the county’s safe room near Liberty Park stayed locked up when residents were literally freezing to death due to unusually low temperatures.

The county’s emergency management director cited that the building was not intended to be an overnight shelter because it lacked proper bathroom facilities and cooking facilities.

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The building was paid for with a combination of federal and local money, but the purpose of the building is supposed to only be a temporary shelter in the case of severe weather such as a tornado.

Critics, for good reason, cried foul last week after learning the building was not opened up as a shelter for homeless or other people who did not have a warm place to stay.

Regardless of whether or not the building has proper bathrooms and kitchen equipment, the place is a shelter with four-walls, a roof and a heating system. It could have certainly been made to work as a shelter for a few days in a pinch.

Instead, the doors were locked. Now Natchez-Adams County officials said last week they plan to explore constructing a separate homeless shelter for such needs.

Given the community’s already tight economy and greater government needs, throwing money at a new shelter when the existing shelter could be used in emergencies just doesn’t make sense.

Let’s focus on people and common sense and not bureaucracy and rules.