AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The city of Augusta’s homeless population is growing, and city leaders are working to solve the problem.
We’ve told you about the homeless encampment under the bridge on Washington Rd, but as you can see in our video, another encampment is set up behind the Circle K, as well as one near the Knights Inn motel.
Local leaders say they’re aware of the problem and they’re working to fix it.
“It’s like the system is crumbling and nobody wants to help.”
Scott Wisener has been homeless for a little over a year. He says there’s not a lot of help for people like him.
“Augusta doesn’t have a whole lot of resources for the homeless,” says Wisener. “It just seems like the police are more about trying to put us in jail, then trying to help us get some help to get off the streets.”
Wisener was an artist and because of Covid, he’s now one of many people who are living in encampments like this. Wisener took NewsChannel 6 inside one of the encampments on Washington Road.
“All this was enclosed, you know with the big tarp over it and everything. So, if you was homeless and you needed something, you could come here and they’d give it to you,” says Wisener.
Clothes, shopping carts, sleeping bags and bikes were just a few of the things that we saw. Wisener says the encampment isn’t just used to keep people’s belongings…it’s also where he and many others sleep. He says the Masters tournament has made it even harder for them to find somewhere to sleep because now the camp is being torn down.
“Until now, they never said anything to us about being in this area really. Last year they didn’t say anything and they didn’t actually tear it down, they didn’t go this far,” says Wisener.
The city’s latest homeless count reveals a hundred more people are now homeless following the pandemic.
Wisener says even finding a motel is hard during The Masters, because rates have gone up to almost $400 dollars.
NewsChannel 6 took Augusta Commissioner Jordan Johnson, who leads the city’s homeless task force, through the encampment off Washington Road.
“We are aware of many encampments in this city and this is one of them,” says Johnson. “This is most of what the homeless task force recommendations speak about. Encampments and how to properly deal with those.”
He says the Augusta commission is set to pass a homeless plan strategy Wednesday evening and hopefully that’ll help the homeless get off and stay off the streets, but he says when it comes to The Masters, the city’s homeless issue is bigger than that.
“I don’t really care what message it sends to folks coming in town for The Masters, at the end of the day I want people to know that were working hard to make sure folks aren’t living in bushes,” says Johnson.
We’re told the encampment is set to be removed on Saturday.