COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — One of the primary providers of homeless services in Columbus will be halting many of those services before the end of the year.
The decision was made by the Homeless Resource Network’s board and is filtering out to those the non-profit organization assists.
The sign on the door of the Homeless Resource Network along Second Avenue tells the story: “We will be permanently closed for homeless services December 21.”
Several years ago this decision would have sent shockwaves through the homeless community. That is not the case now. Other non-profit organizations have been and are prepared to plug the gaps.
The organization – by one name or another – has been serving the Columbus homeless community since 1987. It became Homeless Resource Network in 1994 when the city of Columbus began putting together a plan to address the city’s homeless issue.
Now, agencies are preparing to plug the holes left by Homeless Resource Network’s recent decision.
“You know like Columbus often does, providers have stepped up and stepped in and filled those holes, filled those gaps to be able to provide services for the most vulnerable in our community on an ongoing basis so there won’t be any gaps in services,” said Pat Frey, vice president of Home for Good, the United Way agency that has taken the lead in addressing homelessness.
Home for Good, a United Way Agency, has been working to house those in need for nearly a decade. Beginning in January, bus vouchers will be available through Home for Good.
SafeHouse Ministries, a faith-based organization off Hamilton Road, is picking up mail services and will soon offer storage space for the homeless.
“So, here’s the bottom line, Homeless Resource Network was able to provide tangential services that people needed. Transportation, but no housing, they didn’t provide any temporary housing,” said Neil Richardson, executive director of SafeHouse Ministries. “They provided access to resources. As the game changed in homelessness due to us working together in Home for Good, what we find right now is that anything that Homeless Resource Network was doing is now being done elsewhere.”
Richardson says the pieces for the transition are already in place.
“Nothing is missing. Access to ID, somebody paying for free ID already exists. Mail services, storage services, access to emergency transportation all exists elsewhere. So, this transition has already taken place. Nothing is missing.”
Frey puts it this way: “… And folks will be able to have access to all the services they need to end their homelessness.”
Homeless Resource Network Director Liz Dillard tells News 3 that the organization will not close but continue to do some housing and case management.
“We were there to meet the unmet needs,” Dillard said. “Those needs are not unmet anymore.”
The Second Avenue building that houses Homeless Resource Network is owned by the city of Columbus. That building will be part of a land swap with the Housing Authority of Columbus.