Circle of Care aims to address homelessness in Valley

Published 9:30 am Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

VALLEY — At a work session held Thursday evening at Valley City Hall, Circle of Care Director Jonathan Herston approached the Valley City Council with the idea of addressing a homelessness issue. He described it as a problem that has worsened since the Covid pandemic. It’s especially bad, he said, when it involves single mothers with young children.

The Chambers County Circle of Care Center for Families has 27 programs centered on “when families thrive, children thrive.”

Herston told the council there is a clear need for housing for single women with children. What’s needed is a safe place for them to stay while they receive the job training they need to have a decent living. He said he has looked at numerous sites where multi-family units could be built. An ideal site, he said, is located between Huguley Road and the Boyd Circle Housing Authority area. It’s across the road from Rehoboth Baptist Church and near the new water tank. The city owns the land and is bordered by some Chattahoochee Fuller Center homes. Herston envisions 32 new housing units, most of which are in six-plex row apartments.

Email newsletter signup

“We’ve wondered what would happen if we had our own facility to deal with this problem,” he said. “We need to get them in a good place of stability. Perhaps they can transition to a Fuller Center home. Southern Union could help them with job training. I think this could give them a great foundation, creating a career path with a financial future.”

Many single women with young children the Circle has been working with have been staying at local hotels. This is better than living in a tent city but is a short-term solution.

Herston suggested donating the land to the Fuller Center and rezoning it for multi-family housing.

“This is a long-term plan,” Herston said. “We have been looking at what has worked in some communities and what has not. We have looked at a lot of properties, and this site off of Huguley Road is our top choice. All the needed utility services are there.”

Herston was asked if he had an estimate of the local area’s homeless population. He said putting an exact number on it was hard, but he thought it to be several hundred. The proximity of the state line is thought to exacerbate homelessness in the Valley area.

“I want to help everyone we can the best way we can,” Herston said.

He said the row-style apartments would be for transitional housing rather than a place for permanent residence. A woman with young children could stay there while she received job training. When she found better employment, she could move on to affordable housing. 

“It’s a 12-to-18-month program,” Herston said. “We would need to screen them to make sure they would be appropriate for the program.”

The Circle offers case management services designed to assist people in crises. A case manager will sit with someone needing help, get to know their family, and help them make a plan to get where they want to be. The Circle can help people earn a GED, get a job, and enter higher education. There’s a range of parenting resources, including prenatal. 

The Circle of Care for the Greater Valley Area and Chambers County aims to be a place where children are protected and loved, individuals are respected, families are empowered, and the community is valued.