Lifelong Jackson resident Tashia Carter says helping Jackson’s homeless has been eyeopening. “There are a lot of people who are one to two paychecks away from being homeless. Jackson residents are struggling in a big way,” said Carter, Residents in Action Co-Founder and Executive Director.
Initially formed in 2020 to help neighbors through the COVID-19 pandemic, Residents in Action is a support network of community influencers focused on improving the lives of Black residents and others who have historically experienced inequity in Jackson County. To help combat homelessness, the City Council decided in Dec. 2022 to form a partnership with Residents in Action (also called RiA). This was a response to the growing need for more emergency sheltering during the winter. Since then, the resident-led group has placed 84 unique individuals and families in a local hotel.
RiA’s response goes beyond just providing housing. Community advocates also assist with basic needs such as food, personal care products, and transportation. “Most people that we have helped are grateful and hopeful that there will be a concerted effort to address the need and lack of stable long-term permanent housing in the future,” Carter said.
This assistance is being funded through American Rescue Plan funds given to the City of Jackson by the federal government. City Manager Jonathan Greene thanks RiA for stepping up to the challenge of getting people out of the cold and into safer living conditions. “Creating more affordable housing is a top priority and leaders are working on multiple solutions. While the City continues to take a leadership role, housing instability is an issue for the entire community to come together and address,” Greene said.
Carter says support from the City has been monumental. “I believe the City of Jackson is committed to making positive changes and they are listening. That’s a major step in the right direction if we truly want to effectuate systems change,” Carter said.
RiA organizers say it’s important to know that people become homeless for a variety of reasons, not just because of drug use or mental health. “This project has been emotionally and physically tough for RiA staff but definitely worth it because we have literally saved lives and given reprise to those suffering from homelessness,” Carter said.