AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – With Augusta’s homeless facing obstacles during this pandemic when it comes to finding shelter, Augusta’s Housing and Development has established a local initiative to help the homeless find a place to stay as well as working to curb the Coronavirus.
The local initiative included several local hotels stepping up to assist the city. The Community Development Manager, Daniel J. Evans explains the process of creating this local initiative.
Evans said like many cities across Georgia and the country when the public health emergency related to the pandemic approached the city in early March, the community had to make a decision regarding the emergency shelters. The emergency shelters normally give access to people to come and go every day on a schedule.
“The concern that was expressed at the time during the shelter-in-place was there was no way to ensure any sort of access to testing when folks coming and going on a regular basis did not present an opportunity for widespread contagion or infection,” said Evans.
Evans also said through the advice of the Local Continuum Care for The Homeless Executive Board, the decision for Augusta’s shelter partners (Salvation Army, Augusta Rescue Mission, and Safe Homes) is to go to a quarantine model. The model included 100 to 140 days where the shelters went through a service model that allowed for a 24-7 staying period in their facilities.
Evans points out that the service model created a “log-jam” that prevented people who need shelter to be able to get in.
“The city of Augusta, through its partners in Continuum Care negotiated several hotel vendors the opportunity to book individual room-stays for persons who need shelter and could not get into the shelter because of the quarantine model, or who could not stay there under the parameters of the 24-7 quarantine,” said Evans.
Augusta Housing and Community Development with the support of the Augusta Richmond County Commission and mayor undertook an initiative to work with several local hotels on a case by case basis. The initiative includes booking hotel rooms for people who could not get into shelters during that quarantine period.
For the privacy of those business owners and clients that are being served by these hotels, Evans said Augusta Housing and Development is choosing not to share the names.
“It does represent nine different hotels all across the community. We have been very lucky. We have reached out to hotels as far west as Gordon Highway towards Fort Gordon. All the way downtown and out west in West Augusta off of Washington Road,” said Evans.
Augusta Housing and Development are anticipating providing the initiative for the next 30 to 60 days. However, their goal is to push for long-term housing.
If there is anyone that is homeless or is fleeing domestic violence where an emergency shelter is not an option, contact the office of Augusta Housing Development at (706) 821-1797 for assistance.