AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — As Augusta emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, relief is on the way for vulnerable residents. Those who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or living in abusive or dangerous environments will be eligible to receive an emergency housing voucher, as part of the American Rescue Plan. Senators Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock recently announced Augusta will receive 61 vouchers, equivalent to a total of $724,572. They can be used to pay for affordable housing and utilities.

“The whole concept of the emergency housing voucher is a unique and potentially transformational opportunity for Augusta,” Daniel Evans, the Community Development Manager of Augusta Housing and Community Development, says.

The city’s most recent count of its homeless population revealed there were between “400 and 500 persons experiencing homelessness,” according to Evans. However, that was before the pandemic. Families have since been under extreme financial stress, putting some at risk of losing their homes. Evans says the vouchers will make a significant impact.

“This is an opportunity to take one out of 10 of each of those persons experiencing homelessness and give them a path to permanent housing and some stability.”

The city will work with community partners to connect at-risk residents with vouchers, including those who are “fleeing, or attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking,” according to Ossoff and Warnock. Jennifer Frantom, the Development Director of SafeHomes of Augusta, says giving victims of abuse tools to leave their abusers is crucial.

“One of the main reasons people will return to an abusive relationship is if they don’t have another safe place to go that they can also afford,” Frantom explains. “Being able to help them with any of their basic needs is really important because a lot of times, that’s how they gain their independence.”

SafeHomes of Augusta’s 24 hour Crisis Hotline: (706) 736-2499