City, county invite public to joint discussion on homelessness

·2 min read

Sep. 16—City and county governments will hold a community homeless discussion in October at College of Coastal Georgia.

City Manager Regina McDuffie said the event would be "an all-day summit of information sharing and collaborative discussions and development of action items."

It is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 5 at College of Coastal Georgia's Southeast Georgia Conference Center.

"Glynn County Manager Bill Fallon and ...McDuffie have announced a joint meeting and discussion on the community homeless," according to a press release. "Staff are currently working on an agenda and will send it and additional information out as soon it becomes available.

"Community leaders, religious leaders, health care officials and service organizations will be invited to attend."

People in nearly every sector of the Golden Isles — from downtown business owners to Brunswick residents, churches and law enforcement — say they have dealt with problems arising from a growing number of homeless people in the city's downtown area.

Advocates and nonprofits working on the issue say it's not as simple as moving the homeless somewhere else or building more houses.

Honey Sparre, now retired but formerly involved with multiple charities and nonprofits, told The News in a recent interview that homelessness is the result of multiple factors converging — a lack of access or ability to take advantage of mental health care, education and training, and housing they can afford.

State legislation providing new avenues for mental health treatment, along with funding, may help, but it will take time, Nora Lott Haynes, an educator, mental health advocate and researcher, told The News in a recent interview.

Haynes also detailed efforts to break the cycle of homeless people through increasing inter-agency cooperation among institutions.

Some believe relocating The Well, a homeless day shelter in downtown Brunswick, closer to other health care and mental health services would be better for all involved.

Other efforts to resolve the issue are in the works.

The Historic Brunswick Neighborhood Planning Assembly is taking aim at the issue and asking residents, business owners and workers to share their thoughts at a town hall meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Old City Hall, 1229 Newcastle St.

St. Mark's Episcopal Church at 900 Gloucester St. is collecting signatures from people who live, work and play in the downtown area. The petition urges city leaders to take a leadership role.

The Rev. Alan Akridge, church pastor, said he plans to take signatures to city hall every week. Anyone is free to stop by the church office during business hours to sign the list.