THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) – A charity organization hopes to give some homeless Thomas County Veterans a new lease on life.
They want to open a transitional housing program called The Mustard Seed House to help vets become self-sufficient and productive members of the community. But they're running into a lot of roadblocks along the way.
Hazel Moon hoped this building would soon be the site of the Mustard Seed House for homeless veterans.
"It was important for us to get a home because we wanted our residents to feel part of the community," she says.
The home would have served as a transitional housing program for homeless veterans who want to make positive changes in their lives. It's a program Steve Burns never had the luxury of when he returned from Vietnam.
"You just got out and didn't know anything about PTSD like you do now," Burns explains. "So I am very supportive of homeless housing for veterans."
But when organizers applied for a rezoning permit, they were met by some unexpected opposition.
"That's where we ran into some trouble," Moon explains. The sign went up on the front yard and a petition was circulated stating our purpose was to house sex offenders and drug addicts. And that was never the case but everyone got scared and it prevented us from moving forward."
We couldn't get any neighbors to talk to us, but Moon says the board overseeing the housing project withdrew their zoning request to keep its mission positive. The 7-apartment building will stay part of the program, but organizers are now looking for another home for the more intensive services they offer.
Moon says, "We're fully confident that we'll be open by the end of the year. But veterans are still sleeping under bridges and sleeping in the woods and one night is too many. They are dying and getting wounded so we can sleep comfortably and eat good food. We cannot turn our backs on them."
"Just be supportive of us cause we're the community, too," pleads Burns.
And they just want a place to call home, once they come home.
Officials estimate there are 150 homeless veterans in Thomas County, many either have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or traumatic brain injuries.
They expect the number to quadruple in the next five years as more troops come back from Afghanistan and Iraq.