AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- The Homeless Task Force, headed by Commissioner Jordan Johnson, is preparing to present its Homeless Plan of Action to Augusta Commissioners soon.

The task force began in 2021 after three of the city’s homeless froze to death. One of those people was veteran Willie Walker, who died outside of GAP Ministries a few days after Christmas in 2020.

The task force has been meeting monthly and are nearly finished preparing the plan they will present to the Augusta Commission in the next few weeks.

They have several strategies to combat homelessness in Augusta. One is to change how people respond to the homeless, especially law enforcement. Johnson says the homeless shouldn’t be arrested just for being homeless.

Johnson said that they will begin to implement their strategies as soon as the commission approves the plan.

“Day 1. Day 1. From the moment that the Commission passes this plan, you’ll start seeing these strategies put into action,” Johnson said. “And I’m confident in that because before the plan has even been passed by the commission, we’ve already helped homeless individuals get connected to their families. We’ve already helped homeless veterans get connected to services through the VA. We’ve already been doing the work.”

Johnson believes for the plan to work, some ordinances, like the panhandling ordinance, will have to be changed. They are also hoping to change zoning ordinances to allow tiny home communities to be built. He said those communities have been popping up all over the nation and are seeing success.

Johnson credits the organizations that work with the city’s homeless for the action plan, saying the task force couldn’t have done any of it without their help.

“We couldn’t do this work without the professionals. Without GAP, without Salvation army, Without Freddie Mae. Without the folks that are coming to the table who knows homelessness. It’s just what they do,” Johnson praised. “And again, I believe this has been one of the biggest lifts where addressing homelessness has been concerned in our city’s history because we have not brought together service providers.”

Anyone interested in volunteering to help Augusta’s homeless can contact GAP Ministries or the Freddie Mae Foundation.