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Coalition, Action Ministries work on housing for homeless

Action Ministries and the Troup County Homeless Coalition are working together to provide housing for 23 homeless men and women within the county, but they were just approved for a grant and the clock is already ticking.

The $155,000 grant was awarded by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and will help make a significant difference within Troup County, if all the requirements are met by Sept. 30. DCA is requiring that Action Ministries identify 23 “literally homeless” individuals and have a place to house them by Sept. 30.

“It’s a very aggressive timeline,” said Marvin Nesbitt Jr., senior vice president and chief program officer for Action Ministries. “It’s not the typical timeline but because of the circumstances surrounding this grant opportunity, that is what the requirement is.”

Action Ministries, a nonprofit focused on eliminating poverty in Georgia, met with the Troup County Homeless Coalition Thursday at New Ventures to begin the process of identifying 23 “literally homeless” individuals and securing rental property for each of them.

The rental property can cost no more than $558 per month and must only include one bedroom.

“This is a fast-moving project for us. Fortunately, we have a coalition in place to help us get into this community. The information is already here. We don’t have to come in and try to figure this out by ourselves,” Nesbitt said. “This helps us with being able to mobilize and get folks off the street and get them into stable housing really quickly.”

The definition of “literally homeless” is “an individual who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.” The people who qualify for the program will have a primary nighttime residence not meant for human habitation, are living in a public or privately-owned shelter or are exiting an institution where they have resided for 90 days or less and resided in an emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation prior to entering that institution.

Action Ministries was working through the process of hiring a case manager on Thursday. The case manager will oversee each individual being housed by Action Ministries.

“We are in the process right now of interviewing,” Nesbitt said Thursday. “We have six candidates that we are interviewing today. The goal is to have selected a candidate by the end of today. There is a lot of talent there, so we are really excited about those we are meeting with. I’m pretty confident we will be selecting a candidate today.”

Wanda Walker, the secretary for the Troup County Homeless Coalition, said money donated through the golf tournament last month will be part of the money used to pay the case manager.

Neither Walker or Nesbitt think it’ll be difficult to find 23 people that qualify for the program. Homeless coalition president Denna’ Muncy said last month that a study had identified 99 homeless adults living within Troup County, with another 84 identified within the school systems.

“We feel like the people are here and we are going to partner with the accountability courts to try to identify who would be eligible, any agency that deals with the homeless plus we had a registry of people that came in for the warming center,” Walker said. “We will be able to work all those registries and information and come up with people.”

Nesbitt said the community can help in two ways — helping identify rental properties and by embracing these individuals once they found housing.

“I think what’s important is being able to surround them with a caring community that helps with their transition,” he said. “That can be simple things from hygiene kits, to welcome home kits, pots and pans, towels, bedsheets and things of that nature all the way up to furniture. I think what makes this program work and I think what makes Troup County work and what they have already demonstrated is that there are people here willing to step up and wrap their care around this homeless population and find solutions for them.”