How North Georgia Works Started
Today in Gainesville, Georgia, when the cars clear off the streets, the downtown office buildings go dark, and the city settles down to sleep, there will be nearly 200 individuals who have nowhere to call home. Gainesville, which is the seat for Hall County has earned many nicknames over the years because of its’ valuable location and because of its people. The most notable is Queen City of the Mountains and the Poultry Capital. An interesting designation came following the 1996 Olympics. An NBC broadcaster covering the Rowing/Kayaking event referred to Gainesville as the Hospitality Capital of the World. However, there are those in our midst –able-bodied, unsheltered men– who are in need of an ally; one who will help them to overcome their own unsettled histories.
The shelters in Hall County provide about 137 beds for homeless men. Most of these beds require residents to have a job to continue to remain there. Resources in Hall County provide excellent hospitality to this population, however, concerned citizens in our community have been searching for best practices to help make progress toward ending homelessness.
Between 2013 and 2015 the homeless population increased over 50% in Hall County. Moreover, the homeless population increased another 50% between 2015 and 2017. Despite the significant efforts of both private and public sectors, this population in Hall County’s has steadily increased over the last several years. As our community continues to grow, we want to have a viable solution to end homelessness and recidivism in Hall County, Georgia.
Leading the charge to find a solution in our community is Doug and Lynne Hanson. Doug formerly served on the Board of Directors for Good News Clinics in Gainesville and volunteers for several organizations that are committed to helping the neediest in our community. In 2011, newly-elected Governor Nathan Deal appointed Doug to the Department of Community Affairs State Board as a Commissioner to the State Housing Trust Fund for the Homeless. Doug served for five years expanding his horizons into the plight of the homeless and working on one of their chronic needs – affordable housing.
In 2013, Doug was introduced to Bill McGahan, a fellow Commissioner on the State Housing Trust Fund for the Homeless, who invited him to shadow the Georgia Works! model to end homelessness on the streets of Atlanta. The Georgia Works! program has helped more than 500 men to get off the street and into full-time employment and into permanent non-subsidized housing in the last three years. (www.georgiaworks.net)
Doug has worked tirelessly to take steps to reproduce the Georgia Works! model. Doug has spearheaded 130 local citizens of Hall County to visit two successive Georgia Work’s program graduation exercises in Atlanta. As a result, a 9-member board was organized, and fiscal sponsorship was provided to North Georgia Works! by North Georgia Community Foundation. North Georgia Works! will establish its effort in Hall County, working to end homelessness in our community.