AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – When you think of Augusta’s homeless, you may immediately think of the 13th Street bridge area. But with issues such as the pandemic, there are more people forced to live on the street than you think. And they end up there despite the moratorium on evictions.
“I’m very concerned when you ride around here and you’re seeing people pushing baskets and pushing buggies. I understand that. But when you go in the motel room,” one woman told us.
Garian Henry lost the home she was renting and now lives in different hotels in Augusta. It was at one of those places where the single mother discovered the unimaginable.
Henry added, “I’ve seen so many mothers with children living in one bedroom. Some of them have seven kids. I’ve seen five children. It’s so heart wrenching to see that.”
The state of Georgia’s Point-In-Time Count, done last January due to the pandemic, states there are close to 500 people without a home on any given night in our area. The pandemic has added to that number and Henry said she hears their stories.
“The pandemic hit, the jobs had to close. So, they were either a waitress at a corner restaurant by an owner and they had to shut that down,” Henry said of job losses. “And then with unemployment taking so long to get to people and not expediting applications like they should be, it has forced people to be put out.”
But Henry hopes the recent announcement of $40 million to the city of Augusta for COVID Relief helps those who have been evicted and now on the street.
“I don’t think we have a plan yet,” Commissioner Sean Frantom told NewsChannel 6 last month. “I think it’s going to be a deep discussion on how we best utilize this money. Most areas that need it. Obviously the small business side of it, obviously the people that are hurting.”
“It will be a challenge to make sure the dollars get to those who really need this,” Commissioner Dennis Williams added.
It’s still unclear when Augusta will receive the millions of dollars for COVID relief. But as talks ramp up in Washington, D.C., we could know more.