When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Community Service Center, 430 Prior St., Gainesville
How much: Free
RSVP: Call Sarah Beth Fede at 770-534-6656
More information: Georgia Housing Search online or call 877-428-8844
While there are countless housing resources available in Gainesville, advocates say those most in need are often unaware of these options.
So next week, several offices will collaborate to host a free housing seminar at the Community Service Center, aimed at helping individuals advocate for themselves and tap into available resources.
"We're hoping to educate people on what services they qualify for and just open them up to what housing options they have," said Sarah Beth Fede, advocacy coordinator for Disability Resource Center, which is hosting the event.
The free seminar, taking place Wednesday, will feature speakers from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Metro Fair Housing, Habitat for Humanity and the Georgia Advocacy Office.
Cheri Mitchell, an advocate for individuals with disabilities, said the event is primarily focused on disabled and elderly people, but all are welcome to attend.
There is space for about 30 people, and reservations are required. Fede said this seminar is especially timely because there is a waiiting list for government housing in Gainesville.
Attendees will learn about a variety of issues related to housing, such as how to file a successful housing complaint and where to receive down payment assistance when buying a home.
Ronald Pounds, disability housing coordinator for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, said a representative from his office will teach attendees how to use Georgia Housing Search, a free search engine that features thousands of affordable housing options in Georgia. The site allows individuals to search by accessibility, making it ideal for those with disabilities, Pounds said.
"What we're hoping to do is allow people with disabilities to live and begin to develop opportunities for housing in the communities of their choice," he said.
Mitchell, who works with the Georgia Advocacy Office, said there is a general lack of knowledge around alternative housing options and an aversion to confronting disability issues.
"Nobody wants to face the fact that one day they're going to need those services," she said. "Nobody likes to face that, but they are. They might be 95 years old before they are a person of disability. They might age into this disability. But they will become a person of disability. And they need to know about these services."
Mitchell, who herself is confined to a wheelchair because of a degenerative joint disease, said knowledge not only allows individuals to help themselves but also contributes to a more active and informed community.
"I'm hoping that this will really start a movement in Gainesville of people not only looking for housing," she said, "but people just getting involved in their community."