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The LaGrange-Troup County Homeless Coalition reviews future plans

The LaGrange-Troup County Homeless Coalition met on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, at noon via Zoom. 

New Ventures CEO Mike Wilson gave an update on the Warming Center and what the past winter season looked like. 

He noted that the season had probably come to an end, based on weather forecasts for the next few weeks. 

“We had a good year,” Wilson said. “It was a little bit different this year with coronavirus. I counted this morning, and we were open 73 nights, which I believe is a record for us open. I really thought when we looked earlier, earlier in the season, we would not be open that much.”

More than 400 beds were used. Wilson noted there were repeat participants so the number of people served was less than expected.  

Along with the Warming Center, Wilson also shared an update on the Assessment Center on Fort Drive.  

The Assessment Center is planned to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for homeless locals, residents or those in need to come and meet with human service agencies and get the help they need. 

“There are two other parts to that,” Wilson said. “New Ventures has been home to the warming center for the past six years. We are past our three-year commitment on that, but we are happy to do it. We want to take and move the warming center from its present location to this spot on Fort Drive.”

Wilson said New Ventures also plans to open up that building as an emergency shelter.

“We also want to provide transitional housing,” Wilson said. “We’ll build out pods, where a person would come and stay for three to six months. They would work with all agencies across the board to teach them how to manage their money and things like that. We really want to try to treat the person, and change their entire life.”

Wilson said he would like to see a long-term treatment plan where agencies work to stabilize those experiencing homelessness. He said the coalition has spent a lot of money on hotels and then people are back on the streets in a few days.  

The Callaway Foundation awarded a matching grant of $500,000 and $200,000 has been raised to meet the match.  

Wilson added the renovation can begin soon. 

The goal is to have the Warming Center at the Fort Drive location next year.

Wanda Walker reported the coalition had a balance of $45,388 at the end of March.

Walker added to her report that the State of Georgia received $552 million from the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program to provide relief to individuals, families and landlords whose finances have been negatively impacted due to COVID-19.

“This money will pay for 12 to 15 months past rent and can also help with utilities,” Walker said. 

Funds will be paid directly to landlords and utility companies. 

Walker said that both landlords or tenants can apply. For more information, visit georgiarentalassistance.ga.gov. 

Walker added that Three Rivers received CARES Act funds to also assist individuals 60-years-old or older with bills if their need is due to COVID-19.  These bills can include rent, emergency housing, propane, electricity, water, car repairs and medical bills. They also received funds to help all ages regardless of disability with the same requirements. 

The information will be added to the coalitions Street Beat since it is anticipated that these funds will be available until the end of the year.

Walker added that the Street Beat given out to homeless people in LaGrange has been revised and updated recently.

The next coalition meeting is scheduled for Friday, May 14, 2021, at noon.