Lee County Discusses Homelessness





Residents of Lee County got together last week to discuss a pressing problem — homelessness. While it is difficult to provide a concrete solution for those in need, the event allowed residents to discuss how they can be more open and helpful to the homeless in Auburn, Opelika and Lee County.

The Homeless Education Forum included speakers in the area such as Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller, Opelika Police Chief Shane Healey and Clifford Jones with Greater Peace Baptist Church, among others. However, following the speakers, the event turned into a round-table discussion with solutions and ideas from audience members, based on their experiences.

“We want to thank you for coming today and supporting this event,” said Jean Causey, with One Voice Shelter. “It seems like every time you turn around, there’s people in need and you think ‘no, not again,’ but that is life. That is life. And it will always be that way. Whether it’s needing food, needing shelter, needing counseling. People will always have needs. And we live in the best community in America to meet needs. Everybody cares. Isn’t that wonderful?”

One Voice Shelter helps provide a temporary living space for those in need; it started with East Alabama Health, but evolved into its own organization, Causey said.

The organization can support up to 14 women right now, with or without children, she said.

“We’re just so thankful we live in a community that has open arms for people with needs,” Causey said.

The Northridge shelter from One Voice opened in March 2021.

“Our mission there is to assist the homeless population of Lee County by providing safe, affordable, emergency, temporary and transitional shelter … for individuals who are homeless, and to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them,” Causey said.

Part of that goal is promoting independence in its residents, she said, to bring them back to the independence they once had.

Causey said that despite One Voice’s four years serving Lee County, there is a lot of unmet need in the area.

“We’re reaching out to you again because all of you know, the problem is not solved,” she said. “It’s still happening every day. There’s still those that need our help.”

Fuller echoed Causey’s earlier statement that Lee County people are the type to help out.

“I think we certainly have the people to do something; I think we have the resources,” he said.

Fuller quoted Matthew 25:40, which states: “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

Jones said that he hopes other churches, in addition to Greater Peace Baptist Church, will be willing to help with this problem.

Healey said that over the years, he has watched as the amount of homeless people in the population has increased. It used to be one or less times a year that the department had someone homeless in the community. However, now, it happens several times a week, he said.

Healey said that he and his team work to find solutions — such as getting the person needed help and a place to stay — rather than just a trip behind bars.

“Seeing it on a day-to-day basis, kind of an on-the-ground approach, firsthand … I’ve seen how this community and these organizations can come together to solve a problem,” he said. “We have resources in this community.”


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