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Homeless coalition gives update to council

The LaGrange-Troup County Homeless Coalition is launching a new program to combat a growing homeless population in the county by way of a federal grant.

Mike Wilson of the Homeless Coalition said the organization has received a grant from the Housing and Urban Development office to establish a coordinated entry system in Troup County.

According to Wilson, coordinated entry is a streamlined system that provides individuals and families seeking assistance quick access to a housing placement process.

“The households are assessed using an objective tool that identifies their vulnerability and barriers to housing,” Wilson said. “Those assessed as having the highest vulnerability and housing barriers will be prioritized for access to available housing programs as vacancies occur.”

He said the intention of the program is to match households to the most appropriate housing and service interventions and to base it off the biggest need.

Wilson said this could reduce the length of homelessness by moving people into housing.

The coalition will use the model recommended from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs which uses a multi-site system to enter people into the program. One of those places will be Action Ministries, which has an office at New Ventures in LaGrange. The other will be the Community Action for Improvement office in LaGrange.

Wilson said the reason for doing this is to be smarter with the resources available.

“When everyone collectively collaborates, meaning human service agencies and everybody else that’s involved, we will be able to be strong together than we will as one,” he said.

The program allows anybody coming into LaGrange or Troup who knew they were going to be homeless, they could go to one or two places, get assessed and get them into the system.

Wilson said the coalition will be kicking off the program on Feb. 7 at the New Venture office.

LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton said Wilson and the coalition were instrumental along with the police department in bringing the warming center to fruition four years ago.

“The fact you have continue to work on these issues in other contexts and effectively bringing groups together is great,” he said. “So often, groups don’t want to work cooperatively, and therefore, operate in silos. It’s so much more effective when everybody works together to try to solve the problem.”