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Gainesville’s Straight Street merging with group to help women escape trafficking
Straight Street Impact Program Coordinator Barney Williams, left, speaks Thursday night about various service projects over the past year at the Gainesville Civic Center while Director Beau Robson listens. Straight Street Ministry announced its plan to merge with Atlanta-based City of Refuge, which helps women escaping sex trafficking. - photo by Nick Watson

Gainesville’s Straight Street Ministry announced Thursday night its plan to merge with Atlanta-based City of Refuge, which helps women escaping sex trafficking.

“We want them to see … (they) are a loved creation of God,” Straight Street Director Beau Robson said Thursday night about the people helped through the ministry.

Straight Street operates three ministries — Backpack Love, Beautiful Feet and Straight Street Impact — which will continue to operate and keep local staff.

“Straight Street has been doing great work in the community for many years and the merger of our two organizations is a natural fit that will increase the footprint of services and enhance the work that can be done collaboratively rather than independently,” City of Refuge CEO and Founder Bruce Deel, who was not present Thursday night, said in a news release.

Robson started the night with an explanation of poverty and low-income families.

The federal poverty line is defined as a family of four with a household income of $24,600, which is roughly 17 percent of Hall County, according to US Census data.

Being able to meet basic needs for the same family of four, Robson said, would require around $48,000. The Straight Street CEO estimated 48 percent of the county living below that.

“For those families, they have to answer questions like this: Am I going to pay my heat this month, or am I going to make sure my kids or my grandkids get fed? Am I going to repair this leak in my roof or am I going to buy my pills I need this month to continue going on for any medical conditions?”

In January, the Hall County Board of Commissioners approved the 50-acre rezoning request for five residences to help women escaping sex trafficking.

Robson said getting the first home ready along with other provisions will cost around $1 million.