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Homeless coalition discusses Gateway Center, emergency housing vouchers

Last week, the LaGrange-Troup County Homeless Coalition met at the LaGrange Police Department.

New Ventures, Inc. CEO Mike Wilson announced that the LaGrange-Troup County Homeless Coalition had achieved 501(c)3 status in June.

John Asbell, Chairman of the LaGrange-Troup County Homeless Coalition Board of Directors, Wanda Walker with Troup Transformation, and Wilson discussed a tour of the Gateway Center, a homeless resource center in Atlanta. Walker explained how it works.

“One thing they said was there are many roads that lead to homelessness, and so they try to figure out what that road was that brought the person into homelessness and find that path out,” she said. “And then, they want them involved in the community, too, because that gives them a sense of value, and they begin to feel a part of the community. And then they work on job skill training and placement, adult literacy and financial literacy.”

Walker said that the center refers to the people it helps as guests and gives them key cards to enter the building. They have a curfew, which Wanda guessed was at 8 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. Asbell explained in an interview that the coalition sees the Gateway Center as an example for the coalition’s assessment center, which is in the process of being created.

“Their resources, their organization, their focus, their technical ability … They’re going to be a tremendous resource for us as we vision out and as we grow what we do,” he said during the meeting.

Isaac Davis with the Department of Community Affairs reminded those in attendance that Georgia Rental Assistance is available for anyone behind on their rental payments. He said their rental arrears must be COVID-19-related.

“We are receiving 798 emergency housing vouchers, [for] which we haven’t implemented a structure of the program,” he said. “We’re in the process right now. But if you have clients that need housing vouchers — Section 8 vouchers — we’re going to implement that strategy. And of course, we still also have the coordinated entry vouchers.”

The meeting attendants also discussed the American Rescue Plan Act as a source of funding. During an interview, Asbell said the coalition doesn’t know if money from the ARP is relevant to their cause but hopes some of it will be.