Friday, December 05, 2014

Athens-Clarke homelessness and Oconee's answers to it

It has become increasingly routine to wake or otherwise disengage homeless people sleeping in alcoves, stoops, and semi-heated areas near doors of businesses in downtown Athens, Georgia. I call the non-emergency number at the Athens- Clarke County police in a nearly daily basis in a constant battle to get someone up from sleeping in the entrance to the building I work in (where there once was a homeless shelter).

I wish there was more local shelters and people working with their hearts and minds to try to lessen the burden of the homeless here, and State Rep. Spencer Frye has put his money where his mouth is in working with Habitat for Humanity locally.

There are various places for the homeless to get help including the Salvation Army shelters at 784 N. Chase Street or 484 Hawthorne Avenue in Normaltown that have strict sobriety requirements as well as

Athens Area Homeless Shelter
Google+ page
620 Barber St
Athens, GA
(706) 354-0423


Bigger Vision of Athens Inc
Google+ page
95 North Ave
Athens, GA
(706) 227-4276

What steps can be taken to mitigate the homelessness in Athens-Clarke County in Oconee County, short of opening the Southwire factory as a homeless shelter? Donate, register, involve, be active, consider those less fortunate than you at the holidays, and get busy on every level imaginable.

First and foremost, register to vote. You do not have to belong to any party, but you must constantly vote for those who you think will help the homeless the best. Any excuse you use to otherwise not involve yourself in our government automatically invalidates all the other arguments and discussions, no matter how noble or symbolic the effort.

I really wish it was as easy as finding a new shelter and getting a few beds, but that is only half the battle. There are constant zoning and rent issues, not to mention filing fees and many other hurdles to overcome.  Oconee County is a very wealthy and advantaged area not currently besieged by homelessness on any visible scale, but there are always things the wealthier people can do to help those in need, especially this time of year:

Take blankets and clothes to a tent city near the bypass on Oak/Oconee/Lexington Highway or the bridge on North Avenue, donate to Habitat for Humanity, give food to those who need it, volunteer at a soup kitchen at various area churches including the one off Oconee Street, call your church, dial Community Connection and educate yourself:

Community Connection Northeast Georgia 211 Helpline ...
211-Helpline handson-northeast ga. donate to ... Fundraising Events for Community Connection. Don't have the time, but ... Athens, Georgia 30606. p: 706.353.
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1865 W Broad St #C, Athens, GA 30606
(706) 353-1313

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