Homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked. Poor people are frequently unable to pay for housing, food, childcare, health care, and education. Difficult choices must be made when limited resources cover only some of these necessities. Often it is housing, which absorbs a high proportion of income that must be dropped. If you are poor, you are essentially an illness, an accident, or a paycheck away from living on the streets. In 2016, the official poverty rate was 15.0%. There were 46.2 million people in poverty.
The Liberty County Poverty Level is 17.7%
Long County is 17.9%
A lack of affordable housing and the limited scale of housing assistance programs have contributed to the current housing crisis and homelessness. In the past nine years, foreclosures have also increased the number of people who experience homelessness. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that the 2013 Housing Wage is $18.79, exceeding the $14.32 hourly wage earned by the average renter by almost $4.50 an hour, and greatly exceeding wages earned by low income renter households.
Lack of Employment – With unemployment rates in some areas remaining high, jobs are hard to find in the current economy. Even if people can find work, this does not automatically provide an escape from poverty. The declining value and availability of public assistance is another source of increasing poverty and homelessness and many families leaving welfare struggle to get medical care, food, and housing as a result of loss of benefits, low wages, and unstable employment. Additionally, most states have not replaced the old welfare system with an alternative that enables families and individuals to obtain above-poverty employment and to sustain themselves when work is not available or possible.
For families and individuals struggling to pay the rent, a serious illness or disability can start a downward spiral into homelessness, beginning with a lost job, depletion of savings to pay for care, and eventual eviction.
Battered women who live in poverty are often forced to choose between abusive relationships and homelessness. In addition, 50% of the cities surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2005).
Approximately 16% of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2005).
Addiction – The relationship between addiction and homelessness is complex and controversial. Many people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs never become homeless, but people who are poor and addicted are clearly at increased risk of homelessness.
First, I want to say Thank You, to everyone who made it possible for 2017 to be such a successful year. At the beginning of 2017, we had 15 active members, today we are blessed with 119 members, and we continue to grow. Not only have we seen an increase in organizational membership, but also growth in the number of volunteers from the Liberty/Long County communities, as well as from Ft. Stewart.
In 2017, we made some major changes in how the Coalition operates. We moved from a Board based organization to a membership organization with changes in our By-Laws, and a reduction in the Board to nine members, with each members having specific duties and responsibilities. We have also set a rotating election for each board member.
The Coalition applied for and received 501 (c) 3. status from the IRS. This status has already provided benefits to the Coalition in the form of three major donations totaling $13,000.
Due to the generosity of our businesses and community, we were able to provide funds for 169 requests for help. Their support also made it possible to contract with Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority and Concerted Service to provide case management services for Liberty and Long County. We continue to support the Liberty County Manna House as well as The City of Hinesville’s Homeless Prevention Program. The City of Hinesville, saw an increase of more than 200% in their support for 2017. We also continue to provide indirect support thru agencies that request assistance for their clients.
Along with the monetary support, we continue to receive in-kind donations, that makes it possible to provide clothing and emergency food. This area of growth has been so overwhelming, that we were able to provide more than $21,000. worth of material for Emergency Relief to Porto Rico after Hurricane Maria. In August, we provided more than $10,000 in school clothing to The Liberty County and Long County School systems for their McKenny/Vento Homeless Student Program. (At the end of 2017, there were 210 students enrolled in the program for Liberty County and 20 students for Long County.) At this time, we are proving material to four Clothing Closets that were established in 2017-2018. In December, we held our first Sock Drive. We had set a goal 1,000 pairs of socks, and to our surprise, we ended up with more than 3,500 pairs. At Christmas, we handed out 1,000 pairs, and we continued to distribute more.
One area that I am very proud of, is our increase support to Veterans in need. We have continued to expand support to our local VA clinic and the veterans they provide homeless services to. And in some cases just to veterans in need. I was so proud of our community, when we had to send out a call for help for a new born in need. The response was so over whelming, that baby Andrew will probably outgrow everything before he gets to use it. We received donations from a far away as Brunswick, Jesup and Statesboro. We will continue to expand into this area of service as opportunities allow us. As to our neighbors at Ft. Stewart, we are proud to have helped a number of families in their time of need. As part of our community, Ft. Stewart has helped us when asked, and we will continue to answer their call whenever possible.
In 2017 we saw not only changes in our growth but also in what we do, we have started new programs like our School Clothing and Sock Drive, the Emergency Response Warehouse, Clothing Closets and yes taking care of a New Born. In 2018, we can look forward to new programs along with the strengthening of our current ones.
This past year, we took some major steps that will prepare us for the future, non-more important than the establishment of the Homeless Shelter Development Committee, making our primary goal for 2018 the continued building of community support with the ultimate hope of establishing a multipurpose shelter for the homeless of our region.
As I complete my first full year as president, I want to let you and the community know how honored I am that you have given me this opportunity to be of service. My position as president, means nothing without your support and your willingness to think outside the box with me.
I believe 2018 will bring with it new challenges and new opportunities, and 2017 was the year that made it possible for us to face the future together. It is and will be you, the Coalition and the community that will accomplish wonderful things for our region in 2018.
In closing, I want to say Thank You to some very special people and organizations that made a continued and lasting impact on what we did in 2017. In all honesty, it would take a book to say thank you to everyone.
Jodee and Ty Adams
Rev. Douglas Harn
Rev. Hermon Scott
Calvary Missionary Baptist Church
The Coastal Courier
Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority
Coastal Electric Cooperative
Diversity Health Clinic
Mr. Mike Patel and the Staff of Hinesville Econolodge
The Food Lion Grocery Store of Hinesville
The Fraser Counseling Center
GeoVista Credit Union
The City of Hinesville Homeless Prevention Program
The Heritage Bank
Reality Executives Liberty
Patrick Boyle and the Sudbury 5K
The Hinesville VA Clinic
Victory Assembly of God
Rental Assistance 11
Shelter Nights 130 250 Individuals
Liberty County Schools: 60 Cases 4 Cases of Supplies
Long County Schools: 3 Cases 1 Case of Supplies.
Sock Distribution: 3,000 pairs.
In Kind $35,000.
Service Distribution $19,824.
City of Hinesville $ 4,300.
Manna House $ 1,500.
Case Management $ 2,000.
General Expenses $ 3,000 .
In Kind Out. $21,600.
Total Value $52,224
Year End Balance
Cash on Hand. $11,000
In Kind $13,400
Ice Storm 25 nights