A dedicated group of local volunteers is addressing homelessness in the city through collaboration and by simply reaching out to the homeless with an offer for help.
Formed in August 2017, the Shared Community Outreach and Engagement committee—or SCORE—is a group of local stakeholders committed to helping the homeless in the area secure long-term housing.
Assistant City Manager Frank Corder said the committee of about 20 joins together a cross-section of civic, business and religious leaders and other experts representing the various services necessary to address homelessness as a “holistic community issue.”
SCORE, in partnership with Open Doors Homeless Coalition, has identified about 46 homeless people in Pascagoula, Corder said. The group is tasked with the job of reaching out to those individuals with an offer to help them move into long-term housing. “We’ve visited the woods. We’ve walked in there. We’ve talked to people,” Corder said. The group has already seen tangible successes, Corder said. SCORE has helped 15 people find long-term housing, with an additional 11 working toward the same goal.
“What we’re trying to do is make relationships, gain some trust, show them that we’re trying to be a good community partner with all these different entities and say that there is a better way, there is a path out,” Corder said.
Corder said that residents who value long-term solutions for homelessness should consider giving to reputable organizations like Salvation Army or Open Doors Homeless Coalition instead of handing $5 here and there to people panhandling. SCORE has found most of the people panhandling in the area are not homeless, Corder said, and that money could help give more meaningful assistance to people in need.
“One of the things that the SCORE program is doing is trying to educate the community on the need to have long term assistance,” Corder said. “Not short-term, haphazard fixes.”