The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that a chronically homeless person can cost the public between $30,000 and $50,000 annually in health care, incarceration and other costs.
There are an estimated 200 or more homeless individuals in and around Gainesville at any given time, according to local officials and nonprofit agencies.
And according to the state Department of Community Affairs, Hall is just one of 10 counties in the state to experience a more than 50 percent increase in the number of unsheltered homeless people between 2013 and 2015.
But over the last year, and particularly this fall, great strides have been made to support and assist local homeless. Here are some examples:
• Georgia Works! management reconfirmed its intent to accept five homeless men from Gainesville into the Atlanta program when qualified.
• Three homeless men identified by pastor Jerry Deyton at The Way have entered AVITA for 30-day detox. All have continued the program for their first week. Michelle Thompson is managing this process.
• Two homeless men from under the Queen City Bridge are currently in The Salvation Army shelter for completion of their 30-day program under the leadership of Rosa Hightower.
• VISION 2030 Wisdom Project held a comprehensive Human Services Forum recently exchange ideas and update their participants in a Leadership Development Program on “Housing of Homeless and Vulnerable Families in Hall.”
• Family Promise of Hall County has recently acquired a modular home that will serve as transitional housing for graduates of its program serving homeless families. The home will be established in January.
• Free Chapel Worship Center has announced funding of a new dormitory for “New Beginnings,” which provides a nearby healing place for women with substance abuse and addictions.
• Grace Episcopal Church has expressed interest in donating to funds to support homeless individuals after the closing of the homeless camp beneath the Queen City Bridge in Gainesville.
• The North Georgia Community Foundation, located at 615F Oak St., Suite 1300, Gainesville, GA 30501, has established a Fiscal Sponsorship Fund for those interested in supporting local homeless in the Georgia Works! Program. To date, three community businesses and individuals have contributed to the fund.
Source: Doug Hanson, community activist