Bolivar County homeless shelter closes
by Paisley Boston
Nov 10, 2013 | 2569 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bolivar County Community Action Rainbow Shelter on North Bayou is no longer in operation.

On Oct. 31, the doors of the shelter were officially closed after many years of struggling to remain open.

"The Community Action Rainbow Shelter primarily closed because of funds. For the last two years we have not been funded for the shelter. We had received donations to keep it open, Bolivar County has been very supportive with the shelter," said Community Action Agency Executive Director Elnora Littleton. "Ultimately, the cost for running the shelter now is extremely high, and it is kind of hard to hire a staff person that would be able to be there and would be able to run the shelter."

According to Littleton, the shelter has been facing closure for some time now.

"When I became executive director, the shelter was in the process of closing then but through donations we were able to keep the shelter open and maintain at least 25 to 30 people in there at all times," she added.

In the past, the facility provided immediate shelter for the homeless with assistance in life skills, job training and placement.

Although the shelter recently closed down, according to Littleton, all but one of the 20 clients have been placed in permanent homes.

"We were able to place them so quickly because we have transition homes, which are primarily homes for women with children. We have six transition homes here in Cleveland, three in Clarksdale, four in Sunflower County and we have 12 in Washington County," added Littleton.

According to Littleton, the clients are allowed to dwell in transitional homes for 24 months or until they are able to survive on their own.

"People do not realize this, but there are a lot of homeless in the Mississippi Delta, and not just in Bolivar County. We had people from every place, even people from Northern states," she added.

Littleton said that the shelter provided its clients with job training and life skills, which were essential elements to their survival.

"We taught them job training skills and they were also required to go to the employment service to seek jobs and some had found jobs or were going to school. "They also had various assignments within the shelter. Each person had a day to cook and a day to clean. We tried to make sure that they were able to function in society, by the time that they left the shelter, which in turn gave them a purpose and a hope to live and prosper," said Littleton.

Some of the clients were allotted the opportunity to work in the Bolivar County Community Action Agency's Thrift Store.

According to Littleton, the agency receives donated items from citizens around the county and then sells the items in a thrift store.

The money is then used for various programs within the agency.

"We have some programs that we have a 25 percent match that we must meet, and the funds from the thrift store help with the match," she added.