News 12 First at Five / Thursday, March 29, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A local nonprofit organization is receiving a grant for more than $300,000 to help local homeless families get back on their feet.
With this money, Action Ministries in Augusta is planning to quadruple its impact.
"We provide all of the furniture and appliances that they need for their home," explained Janna Thomas, executive director of the Action Ministries housing program. "Our program serves people who have multiple barriers to housing and self-sufficiency. So not only do they need a job, but they need to increase their education. Their kids are often a grade level or more behind in school."
The housing program serves 19 counties in Georgia and currently has 45 transitional homes throughout the state. Families who qualify are chosen to move into the home and begin to reestablish a stable life.
"Some families are living in vans or in abandoned houses, unfit living conditions," Thomas said.
Right now, Action Ministries has two houses in the Richmond and Columbia County area.
The $308,908 HUD Continuum of Care Supportive Housing Program grant will provide for eight new homes in Augusta. It's given by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program will lease the homes and help furnish them for free. The goal is for new families to go from homeless to hopeful.
The progam is two years. Families receive job search support and budget counseling. Thomas says one family graduated in December.
"It's incredible to see the difference in the desperation they felt when they came into the program to the confidence that they have as an entire family after they finish," she said.
The selected Augusta families will move in as early as July of this summer. They'll furnish their home from donations from Action Ministries' furniture warehouse in downtown Augusta, one of the largest furniture banks in the state. They will now be operating a total of 10 transitional homes in our area.
"It's wonderful for a family who's been homeless to move into a home that has beds and couches and a kitchen table for a family to eat around," Thomas said.
Thomas is thankful this grant will help them meet needs of the homeless population in the CSRA -- a number that's growing rapidly every year. One report shows almost 20 percent of our area lives in poverty. That comes out to more than 71,000 people living in substandard housing or are homeless.
If you are interested in donating time, money or furniture to Action Ministries, contact them at (404) 881-1991 ext. 5615.
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