Augusta homeless count rises

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The latest count of Augusta's homeless population shows a slight increase from last year, but those who made the census say the tally could be low because it was taken during a warm night.

"I bet you if we did this last night when it was freezing cold it would have been a different number," said Lynda Suarez, the research chairwoman for the Augusta Continuum of Care, a local data-gathering committee involved in the effort.

"It was relatively comfortable (the night of the count), and when that happens there are homeless people you can't find," she said Friday.

This year's count, which took place in late January, focused on a single night at shelters and soup kitchens. It documented 551 homeless, six more than a year ago. Last year's count was conducted in colder weather, Ms. Suarez said.

Ms. Suarez, who also works for the local community action agency Economic Opportunity Authority Inc., said she suspects the economy has increased the number of Augusta homeless.

Some progress, she said, is an indication this year of a slight decrease in the number of chronically homeless -- those single adults with a disabling condition who have either been without a place for 12 months or have been homeless at least four times in the past three years.

"We actually went down in that number, which pleases me," Ms. Suarez said. She said there were 142 chronically homeless counted this year, 13 fewer than last year.

A breakdown of the count showed the homeless include veterans, victims of domestic violence, those with mental illness or substance abuse problems, and "a lot of these people with a substance abuse issue are in shelters with treatment like Hope House and Salvation Army programs and the Rescue Mission," Ms. Suarez said.

The count is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to determine funding for homeless services. Ms. Suarez said it's too early to tell how this year's count might affect funding, but she said the area has been receiving greater funds for a Neighborhood Stabilization Program that helps areas where foreclosures have occurred.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 823-3338 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com

AUGUSTA'S HOMELESS BY THE NUMBERS*

379

Men

88

Children

84

Women

551

Total

OTHER CATEGORIES

Mentally ill with one diagnosed illness: 77

Medical disability: 39

Domestic violence victims: 34

Chronically homeless: 142 (134 men, 8 women)

Those not sheltered (in a tent, car or on a sidewalk): 48

Substance abuse: 165

Veterans: 91

Dually diagnosed with two mental illnesses: 64

Source: Lynda Suarez, the research chairwoman for the Augusta Continuum of Care, a local data-gathering committee

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SargentMidTown
8
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SargentMidTown 02/07/09 - 02:59 am
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Turn the Regency Mall into a

Turn the Regency Mall into a homeless town.

Cheech1
0
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Cheech1 02/07/09 - 03:11 am
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Good idea, Butch. Then build

Good idea, Butch. Then build them the lake to bathe in.

LadyCisback
4
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LadyCisback 02/07/09 - 09:37 am
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I feel bad for the children,

I feel bad for the children, they are the ones that are truly suffering from the decisions made by their supervising adults..

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 02/07/09 - 10:26 am
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Homelessness is a problem

Homelessness is a problem that everyone has everywhere. there is no majic bullet to solve it. With the hard economic time coming, I expect these numbers to rise..

junket83
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junket83 02/07/09 - 12:04 pm
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This needs to be viewed as a

This needs to be viewed as a society problem and not an Augusta problem. How many of these homeless cases are actually from Augusta? My guess is that very few of the overall population were actually born or raised in Augusta or spent the majority of their lives in Augusta.

They end up here because of our health care, social programs and warmer climate.

The bill for any programs or care provided should be paid for by a much larger entity (i.e. state or federal) since it is unfair for the locality to bear the cost of care for people from elsewhere. Otherwise we could all play the game that places like Wyoming play which is to give the homeless a one way bus ticket to LA.

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 02/07/09 - 01:33 pm
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Arial10 ptjunket83 ...Many of

Arial10 ptjunket83 ...Many of the able bodied homeless men end up here because the police in other cities bought them one way tickets to Augusta. They chose Augusta because the non profits and programs here pander to the "homeless". HUD has money to be obtained by non profits for the homeless. We need to chastise local non profits for enabling drug addicts and causing out of town homeless to park in Augusta A one way bus ticket to West Palm Beach is a good fix for Augustas' homeless.

corgimom
19240
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corgimom 02/07/09 - 05:54 pm
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They forgot to mention how

They forgot to mention how many of them are registered sex offenders in their home states

SargentMidTown
8
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SargentMidTown 02/07/09 - 06:02 pm
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Arial10 ptcorgimom Excellent

Arial10 ptcorgimom Excellent point about the posiblity of them being sex offenders. It difies good sense to allow strangers who have nothing to loose...who are in a despriate situation ...to come into a town. Insanity! If we do not get together and put a stop to this that next throat getting cut may be ours.

SargentMidTown
8
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SargentMidTown 02/07/09 - 06:05 pm
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Arial10 ptcorgimom Excellent

Arial10 ptcorgimom Excellent point about the posiblity of them being sex offenders. It difies good sense to allow strangers who have nothing to loose...who are in a despriate situation ...to come into a town. Insanity!!

disssman
6
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disssman 02/07/09 - 07:52 pm
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Sarge, I don't recall in all

Sarge, I don't recall in all my years living here, an account of a homeless person killing anyone. I have read about homeless people being savaged for fun by teenagers, however. You won't believe this, but in many years in Europe (Germany, Italy, Holland, France , Belgium and Denmark), I never saw the first homeless person! The children are a real concern, especially if they are with a parent and not simply rebelious teenagers who can't stand authority figures.

FallingLeaves
26
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FallingLeaves 02/07/09 - 11:00 pm
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SargentMidTown, we're having

SargentMidTown, we're having enough trouble in that area with people that are NOT homeless. Why would we want to add to the problems?

SargentMidTown
8
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SargentMidTown 02/07/09 - 11:36 pm
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baroness The problem people

baroness The problem people and I think that you know it, are generational welfare people, most of whom live in secton 8 housing: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/memphis-crime

jajo1012
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jajo1012 02/08/09 - 12:11 am
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I will gladly pay a penny

I will gladly pay a penny more in sales tax to get these people sheltered. How much could it possibly cost to build a home with 500 cots in it? Lets take some action, people! Help your neighbor!

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