City works to count the homeless, to help the homeless - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

City works to count the homeless, to help the homeless

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – The homeless who need the most help may not be getting it because officials don't know they exist.  Only 192 people were accounted for in the last homeless count in Albany and officials say that number is grossly inaccurate, so they are trying again.

Shame keeps people from admitting they have nowhere to go, sleeping on benches like those at the Albany Municipal Auditorium.  But without an accurate count, the city won't be able to provide the help the homeless need.

Where do you go when you have no where to go?  For 21-year old Ashley Jackson, the bus stop is her main stop most days.  She said, "I pray to God it will get better, things going to change."

She admits, her own mistakes are what put her on the streets.  Jackson said, "I wanted to do what I wanted to do, didn't want to hear nothin' my momma had to say."

And now she's paying the price.  "I had to learn the hard way," she said.  "Even though Momma told me so, I had to learn the hard way."

Now she's living a hard life.  Her nights are spent in the Salvation Army shelter, and she finds meals where she can.  She wants to apply for public housing, but there's a cost for that.

She said, "How do you expect a homeless person coming out of a shelter to give you an application fee and get your own background and stuff you can't do that." 

And it's those types of barriers that the city wants to help the homeless overcome.  By getting an accurate count of the homeless, they'll be able to get more money to provide for their needs.  Thelma Watson said, "It's more focused on understanding what the needs are."

Dennis Harris is a homeless veteran.  He says the more help that is available, the better.  "'Cause we need it," he said.  "There's just too many people out of a job and homeless, you know.  If things don't shape up, crime will probably go up.  People go to eat and have somewhere to sleep."

And 22-year old Tray Darity says they'll sleep anywhere they find to lay their heads.  "Either outside or in an abandoned building or in a cut or trash can.  Some of them get a little plastic bag, get a little shirt.  They be sleeping right here.  Shoot, it's crazy."

A crazy life of hard knocks, learned the hard way.

A place for Hope is a day center for the homeless that recently opened.  In just two months, they had more than 600-inquiries, showing just how many people are in need of help for a better life. 

The count is done through the Department of Community Affairs.It is going on this week at shelters, bus stations, churches, social service agencies, soup kitchens and other places the homeless may gather.


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