Gwinnett County shelter opens for homeless women and children

A new shelter dedicated to helping women and children experiencing homelessness opened its doors in Gwinnett County. Homefirst Gwinnett's Resting Spot is the only emergency shelter in the county.

In times of crisis, women and children can turn here. 

"It's always important to be able to provide resources for the community, but especially for female guardians with children, it can be especially complex to go through a crisis and to have children with you," HomeFirst Gwinnett Shelter Director Brandee Thomas said.

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The Primerica Foundation, the United Way of Greater Atlanta, and the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners worked on the project together for three years. 

"Community leaders came together and realized we do have an issue with homelessness here in Gwinett County and they wanted to do something about it," Thomas said.

It's a problem in the community, one people might not always recognize. Sometimes people are living in their cars or in a hotel.

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"Homelessness in Gwinnett County as it is in other communities is sort of the hidden issue. Homelessness doesn't always look how you expect homelessness to look," she said, "So we estimate there may be around 10,000 individuals homeless in the county."

And they've seen the problem grow during the pandemic.

"I say that the pandemic has been the great equalizer. Because we've seen a lot of individuals come to us for help. Some are single moms with children, some are veterans, some have multiple college degrees, so homelessness can happen to anyone," Thomas said.

No matter what the circumstances are, the Resting Spot is here to help. The capacity is limited to twenty people. Each person who comes in receives an individual service plan which could include help with housing, mental and physical health, and more.

It takes a lot of community partners, helping connect the people in need with the services that already exist to help with whatever they need.

"It's always good to tie in more groups because this is a community effort. Gwinnett County is all of our homes, and we want to all make sure that we're doing our part in bettering the community," she said.

In the future, they would like to open more shelters to meet different sections of the population and different areas in the county. You can learn more about HomeFirst Gwinnett on their Facebook page.

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