First Friday Forum on Homelessness / by Matthew Kwatinetz

One of our partners in the community, the Augusta Housing and Community Development Department, tipped us off to some of the great work they've been doing on addressing the homelessness problem in Augusta. As a growing city that's trying to attract visitors, customers, and eventually residents into our urban core, dealing with the homelessness issue is an important part of our economic development plan.

The question that we started with was what it means to "deal" with homelessness because for a long time it was thought to be an intractable problem. New research and new practices are turning that perception around though. A new movement in addressing homelessness called "Housing First" is enabling some communities to approach or even achieve "functional zero homelessness".

Believe it or not, there are several organizations in Augusta who are employing this approach to move Augusta's homeless population to functional zero and they are seeing some success. But they're also facing some problems. Paradoxically, there are more vacant properties in Augusta than there are homeless people, so it would seem like there is an obvious solution. Unfortunately, getting people into those properties can be very tricky.

Watch the video below, leave your comments, and get involved!