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Help for the Homeless in Georgia

August 4, 2016

There are a number of non-profit organizations all over the state that provide assistance or care to the homeless in different ways. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is responsible for overseeing state-run homelessness programs, as well as, receiving and distributing federally-funded grants to non-profit organizations. Specifically, DCA works with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Continuum of Care (CoC) Program which promotes commitment to the goal of ending homelessness in communities all around the U.S.

HUD CoC grants are offered through a nationwide, competitive process. They have established guidelines that must be met in order to be eligible to receive these grants.

Georgia has 9 Continua of Care locations — Athens/Clarke,  Augusta/Richmond, Columbus/Muscogee, the City of Atlanta, and the counties of Chatham (including Savannah), Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton (excluding Atlanta). The final CoC is referred to as Georgia’s Balance of State Continuum of Care and is composed of authorized organizations in the remaining 152 counties.

Georgia's Homeless Count

In January of 2015, the last time a count was completed of the homeless in Georgia, it was determined that there were 13,790 homeless Georgians on a single night — 1,518 of them being veterans. Although the homeless number is still significant, there has been a 19% decrease in homelessness since 2013. Of the nearly 14,000 homeless in 2015, research suggested that 42% were unsheltered.

Living Homeless with HIV/AIDS

HOPWA, the Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS program, is Federally-funded by HUD and its mission is to give housing assistance to those living on a lower income with HIV/AIDS.

HUD provides funds to three different government entities in Georgia: The Atlanta HOPWA Program, Augusta-Richmond County Program and the Balance of State HOPWA Program.

The Atlanta HOPWA Program serves 29 counties in Georgia with the City of Atlanta as the largest recipients of funds. For more information on this program, contact Richard Willis.

The Augusta-Richmond County Program receives a fund and serves 4 counties: Burke, Columbia, McDuffie and Richmond. For more information on this program, contact LaSandra Corely.

Additionally, the Balance of State HOPWA Program works as a liaison for the remaining counties in Georgia. DCA receives approximately $2 million annually, on behalf of the State of Georgia, to provide HOPWA funds to these remaining counties. You can contact Patricia Wright at DCA for more information on this program.

Keep in mind, in order to be eligible for HOPWA assistance, participants must provide proof of HIV status, tuberculosis status and income. Additionally, other documents like birth certificate, picture ID and social security card are helpful but not required.

From Prison to Re-Entry into Normal Living

DCA works closely with the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, Georgia Department of Corrections and the State Housing Trust Fund for the Homeless to provide Re-Entry Partnership Housing (RPH). RPH is a program that provides housing to convicted felons who have authorized release from the Parole Board but remain in prison due to having no other residential options. The goal of the program is to provide short-term financial assistance to help an individual with their re-entry into normal life and enhance their chances to remain crime-free.

Homeless with Physical and Mental Disabilities

The Section 811 PRA Demonstration Program is designed for individuals with a disability who are at or below 30% of the Area Median Income and between the ages of 18 and 61. Recently, HUD awarded the State of Georgia with $14.4 million to provide long-term rental assistance to individuals who meet these qualifications. In order to be considered for the program, the participant must be referred by either the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities or the State of Georgia Money Follows the Person program.

To find out more on eligibility and how to get connected with the program, visit the DCA Section 811 website to find rental unit locations and program applications.

Shelter Plus Care (S+C) is another program designed to help those with disabilities. The purpose of S+C is to provide permanent housing and supportive services to those homeless with mental, emotional or medical disabilities and their families. The program focuses more on (but is not limited to) the homeless with mental illness, chronic substance abuse or AIDS and other diseases. S+C offers rental assistance for a variety of different housing options, as well as a range of supportive services.

Resources for the Homeless

There are a number of organizations that provide help and assistance to the homeless of Georgia. Get connected with a local non-profit to personally touch the lives of many of Georgia's homeless victims. Personally know someone that's homeless? Find a local shelter near you and use one of the many resources listed above or on the DCA website to get them back on the right track. DCA also provides a great resource for locating housing within the state. Search for housing based on your needs or list a property to be rented on the Georgia Housing Search website. 

Chelsea Stephens

About the Author

Chelsea Stephens is the Marketing & Training Lead for Digital Services Georgia. A Georgia native herself, Chelsea enjoys writing on topics that citizens and visitors of Georgia can enjoy and learn from. 

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