Homeless numbers high in Southwest Georgia
The Southwest Georgia Regional Commission said the turnout for the regional homeless count was record breaking.
"We received almost four times as many surveys this year as we did last year so can't commend those communities enough for participating," said Lauren Miller.
And those communities were Colquitt, Decatur, Dougherty, Miller, Mitchell, Terrell, Thomas and Worth counties; eight of the fourteen counties included in area. Miller says many areas feel they don't have a homeless issues but the definition of homeless varies and even includes people who are precariously housed, or have moved in with family.
"Just recently there was a change in the definition to include them because that population has just exploded due to the financial crisis that we're in," said Miller.
Over 1200 surveys were completed and the precariously housed made up for 26 percent just behind 27 percent of those claiming imminent loss of housing, meaning they'll be losing their home in a week. Of the surveyed respondents who considered themselves homeless 29 percent had been homeless less than 30 days which Miller says is another sign of the times.
"A lot of these people have jobs. A lot of these people have full time jobs so some people may have again that stereotypical idea of someone who is homeless who doesn't want to work and is just sitting on the streets begging for money but these are people who want to work, who are capable of working, who are working and who find themselves in that situation," said Miller.
And miller says Dougherty County's role is huge; not only is it a hub for Southwest Georgia but it also services people who live outside the county.
"We do not offer lodging to sex offenders. We'll service any county, anybody, any state if you need help you can come to us for groceries. We have a food pantry here, we also have a soup kitchen that we serve two meals a day, breakfast and dinner," said Faye Turney with the Salvation Army.