Column: We need shelter for homeless

Guest Column By Susan Todd
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Now that Georgia Tech’s study has announced the obvious – that the community leaders of Coweta County see a need for a homeless shelter, does that mean that we will get one?
We didn’t need a study of our community to simply verify what we already know; we need the homeless shelter to be a reality – yesterday.
With all the job losses and foreclosures this county has seen, people don’t need a box of non-perishable food items when they literally have no where to store them. Instead of more and more food pantries popping up everywhere, we need soup kitchens for our homeless citizens. And we need a facility where they can stay safe from the elements.
Here is a typical scenario: After one or both parents lose their jobs and the family begins living on unemployment benefits and use up whatever savings they may have by paying for their rent or mortgage and utilities, they eat by means of food stamps and food donations from the various food pantries. Once their resources are exhausted, something doesn’t get paid. After juggling with the rent and utilities until one or the other is turned off or they are kicked out on to the street, then where do they go? The Stay Lodge seems to be a popular place. Derenda Rowe with One Roof has paid for many from our community to go there trying to buy them some time until they could find shelter of their own. 
When these same people call the Salvation Army for assistance, the answer they get is that the Salvation Army doesn’t help with shelter. What can they do, you might ask? Well, if you need assistance with paying your rent or utilities and if you haven’t been assisted within the last two years and if you call just at the right time, then they can help with up to $200 to go to one of your bills, as long as you can pay the rest. On average, four or five families can be helped each month in this way. So after that meager assistance by the Salvation Army that may have allowed them one more month with running water or a roof over their heads, and then that offer by Derende Rowe’s One Roof to be put up in a motel for a few nights, then what?
There is a building on Savannah street – the Howard Warner building currently owned but not used by the Coweta County Board of Education. They want to “give” this building to the city with the stipulation that it be used only as an educational facility. People, if we could use this building as a homeless shelter, then at least one empty building in Coweta County can be put to good use. The stipulation for it’s use to be an educational facility could be met by having a small classroom run inside the premises for the homeless children who don’t truly have a school to attend since they don’t live in a district anymore.
It’s going to start getting very cold outside. There is an empty building in downtown Newnan being donated to the city of Newnan, or should I say City of Homes? There are people living on the streets in our community. Any questions?
Susan Todd is a resident of Newnan.


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