Homeless Center Tells Local Critics It ‘Isn’t the Problem’

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Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes' grandchildren were in town recently, and they wanted to go to the park to hang out. He wanted to take them to Poindexter Park—but it was full of "dope folks," needles and defecation everywhere, he said at the June 27 Jackson City Council meeting.

"It's awful," he added.

Stokes said he then tried to take his grandkids to Battlefield Park, but it was just as bad there. Eventually, he took them to a park on Ridgewood Road. He said if the council had never let an opportunity center for homeless people come to the Poindexter area, then the park would be better off. He said Poindexter Park Neighborhood Association Vice President Sheila Harper had warned against it , but he had supported it.

"I tell people all the time that was the worst decision I ever made because it has almost killed Poindexter Park," he said.

Harper also opposed the Stewpot Opportunity Center on Amite Street. She recalled years ago when residents did not want the center built in their neighborhood. Two businesses pulled out of the west Jackson area because the center was being built, Harper said.

"We were promised that it would never be meant for a shelter. It was supposed to be a food pantry," she told the Jackson Free Press. "Years later, the thing that we feared the most is what has happened."

Now, the west Jackson area could be getting a new homeless center, the Jackson Resource Center, a facility that at least some residents say they do not want. Harper and other residents came to the July 27 meeting to express fear that the resource center could make things worse by "segregating" services for homeless populations, the mentally ill and those suffering with drug addiction into neighborhoods already overloaded with such facilities.

"They have a heart

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