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Helping combat region homelessness

The LaGrange-Troup County Homeless Coalition, in partnership with Action Ministries, has kicked off its latest program to help combat homelessness in the region.

The program is called Coordinated Entry, and it is designed to provide quick access to individuals and families seeking assistance to avoid homelessness.

Mike Wilson of the Homeless Coalition said this program has been in the works for about two years, and there have been several meetings with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and Action Ministries to make it work.

“It’s really going to mean a lot for the homeless that are coming into Troup County,” he said.

Samantha Bolling, vice president for program at Action Ministries, said the process allows a homeless person coming into Troup County to visit multiple sites for services.

Those locations could be Action Ministries, Community Action for Improvement, Circles of Troup County or Harmony House.

All of those sites will have somebody available to assess an individual or a family seeking assistance. Action Ministries will be responsible for training individuals at each of the sites, so it would reduce the number of people that a person would need to see to get help.

“We don’t want to turn them away just because there’s no one to do an assessment,” Bolling said. “We want the client only to have to tell the story one time. Then have access to the services that they need and to make sure that we can provide those wraparound services as soon as possible.”

Bolling said the program is designed to help as many people as possible, and the assessment is meant to prioritize the highest need. She said that is there to make sure the people who need the most help are served first.

She said it can be really difficult to decide who gets help.

“Because we still have the same funding, we have to pick and choose and prioritize who we are able to serve,” Bolling said. “And unfortunately, that is just the reality of all coordinated entry systems, housing providers.”

The point of the coordinated entry program is to match individuals or families to the most appropriate housing and services and to prevent people from becoming homeless by supporting them to resolve their crisis.

“Statistics show that if you ever enter into the homeless system, then you are more likely to reenter the homeless system,” Bolling said. “If you never walk into it and are never engaged with the system, then more than likely you won’t ever.”

Once the assessment is complete, and the family or individual’s needs are determined, they are referred to available housing resources available. If housing space is not open at the time, individuals are placed on a list.

The individuals are then encouraged to have means of contact either by email or a phone that can connect to Wi-Fi, so they can be reached when space does become available.