Homelessness focus of monthly JCPD roundtable

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Johnson City Police Department (JCPD) hosted its monthly community roundtable at the Langston Centre Thursday evening.

Homelessness was the topic at the center of this month’s roundtable with dozens of community members and stakeholders in attendance.

The Generalist co-owner Lora Eshbach was one of many who attended the roundtable to learn more about the city’s plan to tackle homeless.

Her store is at the heart of downtown. Eshbach said that it’s important for her to get a better understanding of how to use the city’s new homeless outreach coordinator as a resource.

Eshbach said there’s an individual responsibility to help show compassion while working to end homelessness.

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“We don’t want to just say, ‘Hey, get off my lawn,'” Eshbach said. “We want to say, ‘What’s your name? Where are you staying? What are your struggles?'”

Lorena Bennett has been serving as the city’s first homeless outreach coordinator since November.

Bennett said that significant progress has been over the last three months. She said she’s been able to help eight homeless people find housing since starting the job.

“With all the resources that we have, all we needed was the middleman,” Bennett said. “I’m being the middle guy to go out and reach these individuals and bring them to the resources that they need.”

Eshbach said that she’s already noticed the results and progress that Bennett has made. Bennett has already met with several downtown businesses since taking the job.

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“It’s nice to have open conversations like this,” Eshbach said. “She’s been present at a lot of the downtown safety meetings and has also come and introduced herself to merchants downtown which is significant.”

The next JCPD community roundtable will be on March 14.

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