AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – After partial demolition, the remains of what used to be a Clarion Suites Hotel quickly became a hangout spot for the homeless on Washington Rd. And according to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, there were zero reports from nearby residents of harassment, spying, violence, or any major crime from the homeless.
“No crime, no,” Lt. Danny Whitehead said.
He says these people weren’t trouble makers, they were just down on their luck. In the past six months, the RCSO received four calls about the homeless at Clarion Suites, only two of which from nearby residents. All of the calls were concerns about loitering.
“The biggest complaint was just them being on the property,” Lt. Whitehead said.
The property is privately owned. The building is condemned by city code enforcement, and if the owner doesn’t soon submit plans for remodeling, the building will be demolished.
The owner hired 24-hour security, keeping anyone and everyone off the property, and putting the homeless back on Washington Rd.
“We’ve had a problem over in that area with the homeless sleeping under the bridge and everything, and there’s been an increase in what appears to be homeless throughout the city,” Richmond County Commissioner Dennis Williams said.
But there are local resources available to the homeless.
“We work with several different businesses and other stake holders and offer over 60-70 different resources,” Lt. Whitehead said. “Whether it’s shelter, food, transportation. We provide that information to them.”
Commissioner Williams is co-chair of the city’s homeless task force, designed to address the issue locally.
“Right now the subcommittee on homelessness is looking at trying to establish a main shelter that will help control some of the need,” Commissioner Williams said.
He says the problem grew during the pandemic when a lot of people fell down on their luck.
“In today’s society, it doesn’t take much for anybody to be homeless nowadays,” Commissioner Williams said.