Homelessness and families: It’s a problem in the Garden City

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– Homelessness is a nationwide issue, even right here in  the CSRA.

Officials told us the number of homeless people in Augusta is drastically higher than the number of shelters available. When many think of a homeless person, oftentimes, a man pushing a buggy comes to mind, but in reality, that is not always the case. Many homeless people go unnoticed: Like a mother and her children who I spoke with Monday.

“It’s a little bit of hopelessness, a little bit of helplessness,” a homeless mother, who wishes to remain anonymous said. She has been jumping from house to house for the past six months. While working two jobs, she fell behind on rent and was evicted.

“There were no available spots for simply homeless people and families in the Augusta area,” She explained.

She isn’t the only mom in Augusta facing this issue.

Renee Reynolds has opened and operated several homeless homes throughout the past six years. She said you generally won’t see homeless women and children walking the streets.

“They’re going to be more invisible,” Reynolds told me. “They are the invisible population for homelessness.”

Reynolds explained most homeless moms are not going to sleep under a bridge with their kids– they’ll just jump from house to house or sleep in a car.

“As a parent with children in the school system, you want to be as stable and project as much stability as possible so that your children aren’t taken,” Shawn Edwards with Housing and Community Development said.

He explained HUD requires cities to perform a point in time count each year– a rough number of homeless people in a city. 2017’s January count shows 246 people experience homelessness each night in the Garden City, but Edwards tells me that number is never exact because only the people who are physically seen are included.

“Most people in America, I don’t care what their house looks like, or what kind of car they drive, are one paycheck away from losing their place to live,” Reynolds admitted.

“From my experience, I know these days are only for a season,” the homeless mother expressed. “The most important thing in my opinion is to make sure your children know you love them and are doing the best you can.”

Edwards told me his team is already working to bring faith-based organizations and the nonprofit community together to lower the homeless number in 2018.

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