South GA homeless population grows - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

South GA homeless population grows

February 1, 2008

Valdosta - South Georgia has a serious problem that is often overlooked.  The South Georgia Coalition to End Homelessness estimates there are 80 homeless people living in Lowndes County, and nearly 100 more who pass through each of their shelters in the 18 county area.

"People think because we live in a nice warm friendly community, that everyone has everything they need. But unfortunately there's a lot of people you don't see," Jane Osborn with the SGCEH.

They population is growing every year.  "They are living near the woods here, the train station, people are living near the exits because that's an easy place to get food," Osborn says.

People like Tom McCament, who hit hard times and lived on the streets for five years.

"It's a shock. your feet are completely knocked out from under you, emotionally, financially. You don't know where to turn or which way to go."

He turned to the South Georgia Coalition to end Homelessness. They helped him find shelter and a job with Hope Ministries in Homerville.

They'd like to help more people like McCament get back on their feet. But a lack of awareness means a lack of money.

And the homeless population grows.  "This area has suffered two losses of major industries. Waycross suffered a number of losses after the fires and the little towns around her don't don't have the infrastructure."

They hope to help all homeless get a fresh start but say it will only be done with increased awareness of these forgotten neighbors and a push from elected leaders for better shelters, assistance program and affordable housing.

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