COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - From HIV testing to free bus passes, organizations in Columbus united Friday afternoon to help fight issues plaguing the homeless community.
The 2016 Project Homeless Connect was hosted by New Horizons Behavioral Health in partnership with the United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley and Home for Good organization.
"We have a lot of individuals who are chronically homeless, and they have a lot of issues with their health and they need to be off the streets, fast," said Frederick Smith, the Residential Coordinator for New Horizons.
From free haircuts to essential health checkups, the 2016 Project Homeless Connect had it all. Employees with different organizations spent the week reeling in the latest stats, finding that about 200 people are either living in shelters or out on the streets of Columbus.
"A lot of our homeless individuals, they live under the bridges, down by the river, and we want to get them into stable housing," said Smith.
Among those toughing it out outside are an alarming amount of veterans. Last July VA Secretary Robert McDonald visited the Valley, vowing to bring down the amount of homeless vets to zero. While that goal wasn't fully reached nationwide, officials in Columbus came pretty close.
"It is very realistic, it is very doable. Last year here in Columbus we were blessed to be able to house 86 veterans and we're on track this year to functionally end homelessness among our veteran population," said Pat Frey, Executive Director of Home for Good.
It's a prevalent issue that leaders addressed at today's gathering of resources. "For them to come home and not have a place to call home, and not have a roof over their head...it's the least we can do," said Frey.
All participants Friday were given a hot breakfast, lunch, and toiletries kit and administrators hope that the resources offered here will get more people off the streets, and keep them off.