All About the Mission - September 28

Posted By: Sue Parr All About the Mission,

Homelessness in Augusta.  It’s not a conversation anyone relishes to have but due to its importance, the Chamber’s Board of Directors was intent this month on learning more about what is being done to curb homelessness in our community by our elected officials.  The Chamber’s Board of Directors received a briefing at its September meeting from Augusta-Richmond County District 1 Commissioner Jordan Johnson who serves as Chair of the City’s Homeless Task Force.

Commissioner Johnson shared information about the City’s tactical plans to address homelessness and talked about his own personal experiences and engagement to more clearly understand both the infrastructure and compassion needed to understand the complexity and nature of how communities address the homeless.  He explained partnerships that are forming between the City and various health and human service organizations, such as the United Way of the CSRA, to provide integrated resources such as last week’s announcement and opening of the First Stop Center on the Kroc Campus.  He noted that both evening and day shelters are needed in the county to address the rising numbers while at the same time addressing the need for permanent housing at a low-income cost.

The conversation was detailed enough to distinguish the differences between circumstances such as mental health that leave people without options to a more different discussion on vagrancy and crime such as drugs and human trafficking that often appear pervasive in the community.  He noted that matters involving high concentrations of crime are a significant priority for law enforcement, especially in high traffic corridors such as Washington Road. 

When asked about what a business can do if persons are interfering with the operation of their business, Commissioner Johnson shared that they should contact the Augusta-Richmond County Marshal’s office to intervene.  He noted that it will take the entire community to more clearly understand the needs of the homeless but that it will remain a priority for the county as long as the issue exists.  He urged the Chamber’s Board of Directors to remain engaged in the conversation as the community continues to address offering opportunity for all and keeping the public safe.