GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Homelessness is a growing issue in metro Atlanta.
One emergency shelter told Channel 2 they’ve seen the need increase by over 200%, since they first opened in 2020.
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Channel 2′s Kristen Holloway shared how families in need are getting into permanent housing.
It’s been one year since the only homeless shelter, “The Resting Spot,” opened in Gwinnett County.
Since they started the initiative in 2020, they’ve served more than 28,000 people.
However, Holloway was told they see higher levels of need than ever due to the pandemic, inflation and the housing crisis.
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“Rent is increasing at such a high rate. People cannot renew their leases, and once they’re out of their apartment, where are they gonna go? Everywhere has increased,” Tina Emond, HomeFirst coordinated entry director for Gwinnett County, said.
“We get about 600 calls a week for people who request information or assistance…of those 600 calls, we are lucky if we can help half of them.”
Those 600 calls a week are from families needing emergency shelter. Regional Director Denise Townsend said they’re seeing many landlords or managers that were accommodating during the pandemic start to pull back and not be as flexible.
“Demand is going up, but then the resources are shrinking to some extent, and so the gap has been widening in terms of how do we meet those needs,” Townsend said.
But there’s some good news from The Resting Spot.
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“We’ve had guests move out and into new homes and that’s been very rewarding to see,” said Brandee Thomas, HomeFirst shelter director.
On Thursday, volunteers wrote letters to the women transitioning into permanent housing this week, writing them encouraging messages like,
“You’re in a tough space but this doesn’t define who you are and we want you to not feel bad about the situation. You didn’t create it but we’re going to help you through.”
HomeFirst Gwinnett held their first community festival on Saturday to help bring awareness to the emergency shelter, The Resting Spot.
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