Agencies gather to help the homeless - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Agencies gather to help the homeless

May 9, 2006

Albany -- On any given night in Georgia, more than 18,000 people have no place to call home. They live in homeless shelters or with family and friends for days at a time.

Now Albany agencies that help the homeless came together to find out what resources are available to this often forgotten population and to talk about what else needs to be done to help.

It's 11:00AM at Faith Community Outreach Center on West Society, and cooks are preparing lunch. Dozens of people come to the shelter each day for the free meal.

And women and their children can stay at the temporary shelter for up to three months. "I think we need more help, more resources, more amenities and more concern about the situation of the homeless," says Faith Community Outreach's Janice Thompson.

Director Thompson set out to find more help for her clients at a regional resource fair for homeless providers. Agencies, from the Salvation Army to Albany Rescue Mission, were told about outside resources that can help them combat homeless. They learned about free health care programs and barriers standing in the way of good jobs.

And they worked on grant writing skills that they can use to get more state and federal funding for their programs. "I have gained so much information that I'm going to take back. It's just going to help them get from point A to point B much faster," said Thompson.

Point "B" being a home of their home, so they don't have to rely solely on charities, the government and taxpayers dollars for help.

"You're paying on the front end or you're paying on the back end." Organizer Barbara Reddick of the SWGA Rural Development Center says you should also give to these charities because homelessness effects everyone. "You pay more in everything, taxes and services. Eventually, it trickles down to everyone of us. We all have to try to do the best we can."

And the best efforts of the people in this room help get these folks off the streets and into a home. More than half of Georgia's homeless population are single parents raising children.

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