HomeFirst Gwinnett: Providing Greater Assistance and New Resources for Gwinnett County’s Homeless Community

Denise Townsend with United Way and Pat McDonough

Andersen, Tate & Carr attorney Pat McDonough has built strong relationships with key members of the legal community, but it is his involvement with the United Way that merged his professional career with his passion to support his community.

Pat is an advocate and champion of the homeless in Gwinnett County. By raising funds, forming business collaborations, and building relationships with government officials, he has helped bring the United Way’s dream of creating a homeless shelter and assessment center in Gwinnett one step closer to reality.

In 2018, homelessness was identified as one of the top issues facing the north Georgia county. Recent reports have shown that Gwinnett has one of the largest homeless populations in the state of Georgia. At the time, the county had no operating homeless facilities. County leaders + United Way Greater Atlanta recognized that this situation required immediate attention.

According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there are four overarching categories that determine if an individual qualifies as “homeless” —  these categories also include experiences of those who:

  • Trade sex for housing
  • Stay with friends, but cannot remain for longer than 14 days
  • Are being trafficked
  • Have left home because of physical, emotional, or financial abuse (or threats of abuse) and have no safe, alternative housing

The HomeFirst Gwinnett Initiative was formed between the United Way of Greater Atlanta, Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, and the Primerica Foundation as a partnership to address homelessness in Gwinnett by bridging the gap between a network of services to help those in need of housing assistance. Thanks to the hard work and constant support from these founders, more than 40 additional community partners have joined the initiative.

The HomeFirst Gwinnett Initiative has developed a strategic approach to accomplish five specific goals:

  • Draft the Homeless and Affordable Housing Strategic Plan
  • Implement the Gwinnett County Coordinated Entry System
  • Establish homeless assessment centers
  • Identify and develop affordable housing options
  • Administer Gwinnett County’s Homeless Point-in-Time Count

Currently, the only resources available to homeless individuals and families in Gwinnett simply provide contact information of centers that may have a room available for temporary housing. The Gwinnett County Coordinated Entry System will allow people experiencing homelessness to access the crisis response system in a streamlined way, have their strengths and needs quickly assessed, and be quickly connected to appropriate housing and mainstream services within a community or designated region.

To learn more about HomeFirst Gwinnett initiative and how it is accomplishing its action items, click here

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, homeless and runaway teens are vulnerable to sex trafficking.

If you know someone who has been a victim of sex trafficking, experienced trial attorney Pat McDonough can help them find justice. Mr. McDonough seeks civil justice by going after hotels and motels that provide safe haven for traffickers. There are no costs to the survivor. Reach out for your free, 100% confidential, consultation.

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