Source: NorthFulton.com

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Homelessness part two: Help is at hand for homeless, needy
Nonprofits struggle to meet demand

by JONATHAN COPSEY

December 19, 2012

NORTH FULTON, Ga. – When it comes to charity, the north Atlanta suburbs have no end to giving. Unfortunately, they also have no end of those needing gifts.

“For some reason, it seems like [poverty] is increasing,” said Sandy Beaver, director of The Place of Forsyth.

The Place offers emergency survival needs to people and families. This can include helping pay utilities or giving out food.

Forsyth has many 50-somethings who have lost their job and have not been able to find other work with the same income they used to earn, Beaver said.

“A lot of times, families break up over this,” she said. “For a man, his identity is wrapped up in his job. When he loses that, he’s wrapped up in his personal crisis. They abandon their wives and then these women are alone. It’s happening even with younger people. We’re seeing women with children who have been abandoned by their significant other or spouse.”

Beaver is also seeing a rise in poverty due to disability.

“Those who become disabled and can no longer work, they use up all their resources and then have no place to go,” Beaver said. “A lot of people become temporarily homeless if the home they are renting is foreclosed on and their possessions are thrown on the street.”

There are no places for the homeless to go in Forsyth, she said. At least in Fulton, the needy can go to the large shelters downtown – if there is room.

However, North Fulton has its own homeless to see to.

The Drake House of Roswell offers housing for up to six months for women and their children. During their stay, the parent must have an income and attend life skills counseling.

“It’s taking a lot longer for our moms to find employment,” said Christy Merritt, director of programs with Drake House. “We stay full. With 15 families, there’s always someone coming and going.”

The Drake House has part-time career coaches to help the moms work on resumes and increase their chances on having an interview. Add to this weekly job skill classes to hone interviewing skills, customer service skills and professionalism over all, and those women are as employable as possible.

But how employable can you be without transportation to work?

If a guest of the Drake House cannot afford a house or even food, should she pay for a car? If not, how will she get to work?

“A car means a regular expense,” said Merritt. “Sometimes, we will advocate giving up the car in favor of a home. But the meager MARTA service in this area also hampers their ability to find a job.”

Homestretch is an emergency housing program in Roswell that provides homes for families for up to 18 months. Similar to the Drake House, the goal is to teach them to care for themselves and their families on a limited budget while living rent-free, to amass the resources to get back on their feet.

“We eventually want our families to get into home ownership,” said Rose Burton, director of Homestretch. “Home ownership is not a solution for all our families, but it is a great one.”

Burton said homelessness is more than simply being without a home. To lose that roof over your head has psychological effects as well.

“There are a lot of studies talking about the trauma on children and single parents, especially single moms, when the family breaks up and faces homelessness,” Burton said. “There’s lots of anger and paranoia facing a person. Their lack of stability prevents them from moving forward.”

It can be especially hard on mothers of children who are autistic or require special attention. If the child acts up in school and needs to be sent home, the mother has to leave work to care for the child.

“In those situations, it’s challenging maintaining a job,” Burton said.

While employers might be sympathetic to the circumstances, in the end, work has to be done.

There are many reasons an otherwise productive person can fall into homelessness and poverty. Thankfully, there are also many groups and people who can help lift the needy up.

For part one about homelessness click: http://www.northfulton.com/Articles-TOP-STORIES-c-2012-12-12-196502.114126-sub-Homeless-in-suburbs-hidden-from-sight.html