A Second Chance: Lisa’s Story of Resilience and Stability
In March 2022, Lisa, a 53-year-old Georgia woman and veteran of the armed forces, and her son were on the verge of homelessness. Her husband, also a veteran, had died in 2020, which left her and her child with only enough to scrape by.
For the benefit of her son’s education, they moved to Houston County, Georgia, where they lived with Lisa’s mother. But the situation was unsustainable, and Lisa and her son were close to ending up with no place to stay at all.
For many people homelessness or serious housing, stories like Lisa’s are common. The sudden loss of a job, a spouse, or a supportive family member is all it takes to set them down a path that becomes more perilous with each passing day.
A Stable Home for Lisa and Her Son
When Lisa came to us in April 2022, we were able to place her and her son in temporary housing at a local motel. VOA Southeast connected Lisa with a case manager for Supportive Services for Veteran Families, a VA program that assists low-income veterans with finding stable housing.
With our help, Lisa was able to find a stable place to live within a few months and recover her and her husband’s military retirement benefits. She’s now working on getting a Master’s degree and renting a home with her son while she builds up her credit to apply for a mortgage.
On the Front Lines Helping Those in Need in Rural Georgia
Housing Support Specialists like Janis Jones form the backbone of VOA Southeast’s mission to connect Georgians with the resources they need to live healthy, independent lives. She works closely with landlords to educate them about Georgia’s Housing Choice Voucher Program. She says that even once people have been approved for the voucher, availability of housing remains a persistent problem – especially in rural areas.
“What we try to let the landlords know,” she said, “is that once they house someone for us, [VOA Southeast] will be out there with them, visiting the individuals in their home constantly to make sure that the property is being taken care of, that they’re abiding by the lease… and that they’re out being productive citizens in the community.”
Rural Challenges to Housing Assistance in GA
Helping people access what can be life changing resources is particularly challenging in Georgia’s rural communities, she says, both due to a lack of awareness about what’s available and from the difficulty of getting transportation.
“People in rural areas are not familiar with the different resources that are available to them such as housing, benefit counselors, employment services,” she says. “Some of them live two, three hours away from the nearest community service board. It’s not like urban areas where you have transportation out the door.”
The key to making a difference, Janis says, is responding with urgency when you see people in need.
“When you see homeless people on the street, don’t ignore them, don’t look away: go to your community meetings and ask, “Why are they still standing there? What are we doing as a community not to just move them away and hide them – what are we actually doing to help them?’”
Making an Impact: How to Support VOA Southeast
Giving and advocating are essential to making a difference. Your donations are critical to help Janis and all the other dedicated employees at VOA Southeast support Lisa and other people with similar stories throughout Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.
Each year, with your help, we positively impact the lives of over 35,000 people throughout the region by
- Fostering long term stability for veterans
- Enriching the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities
- Promoting ongoing recovery for individuals dealing with substance abuse
- Empowering individuals with mental illness to achieve emotional health
- Helping at-risk children and youth build productive lives
- Facilitating healthy aging for low-income seniors
Make a Donation
Every dollar makes a difference. The money you give transforms lives and strengthens communities; it helps people in situations like Lisa’s find a stable home for themselves and their families, creating the security they need to grow personally and contribute to the health of their community. You can make a one-time donation or a recurring gift.
Your regular donations lay the foundations for the work we do. With a recurring gift, you help us expand our services and improve our outreach to the people in Georgia’s rural communities who have the most obstacles to overcome.
Donate Your Vehicle
Your old vehicle could help support someone in need. VOA Southeast happily accepts used car donations, and we will gladly schedule you online for a stress-free pick up. The proceeds from your donated car go to support the services we provide.
Housing Assistance in GA: Resources
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about where to go for help with housing assistance in Georgia.
What Kind of Housing Assistance Does VOA Southeast Offer?
VOA Southeast provides permanent housing for income-eligible families and individuals, transitional housing for veterans, supportive housing for persons with disabilities, and housing for income-eligible seniors aged 55 and older.
In addition to the direct aid we provide, we also help connect people like Lisa with government aid and services they didn’t realize they were eligible to receive.
Who Qualifies for Housing Assistance in Georgia?
Georgia’s Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly known as Section 8) helps people rent safe, affordable housing in the private market by providing rental assistance. In order to be eligible for Georgia’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, people have to:
- Make less than 50% of the median income for the county you live in, as specified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible immigrant
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Be a resident of the state of Georgia
How do I get rental assistance in Georgia?
You can get up to 18 months of payment relief by applying to the Georgia Rental Assistance program. In order to be eligible, you must:
- Qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship since the start of Covid in March 13, 2020
- Demonstrate that you’re at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability
- Have a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median income (AMI).
What is the income limit for HUD housing in GA?
The income limit for HUD housing in Georgia is set at 50% of the median income for the county where you live. Median household income in Georgia is $65,030, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but that number can vary greatly depending on the county. For instance, in Oconee County median household income is $106,165, but in Stewart County it’s $39,020, so where you live will play a significant role in determining whether you meet the less than 50% criteria.
Does Georgia have Section 8 housing?
What used to be called Section 8 housing is now known as Georgia’s Housing Choice Voucher Program. Administered by Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA), the Housing Choice Voucher Program makes subsidy payments to landlords on behalf of tenants.
Want to Support VOA Southeast?
Having a safe place to live is an essential human need. When you support VOA Southeast you help lay a firm foundation not just for the well-being of others, but for your community as a whole. Donate today to support the work we do reaching out to those most in need throughout the state of Georgia.