Months after hurricanes Irma and Maria, their aftermath is still felt even in Liberty County. Since October, local organizations have seen more than 20 families seeking assistance.
The Hinesville Housing Authority Board of Commissioners voted during its January meeting to donate $10,000 to United Way Liberty County, with $5,000 to be given to families displaced by hurricanes Irma and Maria and $5,000 for Liberty County residents who may need assistance with utility deposits or payments due to financial hardship.
“HHA and the United Way partnered to ensure both organizations render products and services to the families in need but we must remain in compliance with accurate documentation, policy and guideline adherence,” HHA CEO Melanie Thompson said.
Last month, a meeting organized by Georgia Rep. Al Williams was held with the Puerto Rican community and local social service agencies to assess the needs and concerns of those who were seeking aid in the community.
“The families' stories were very heartfelt and they expressed fear and hopelessness through their tears,” said HHA Chairman Joe Ford. “We will continue to fulfill our mission and vision of providing housing solutions to anyone in need by assisting the families that have endured this tragic, life changing event with compassion and superior customer service because it could be anyone of us or our loved ones.”
Since the meeting, HHA has provided permanent housing for several families using HUD compliance guidelines, which is mandatory regarding managing the housing waiting list and using a preference classification to ensure the applicants' selection process is authentic and fair.
“Hinesville Housing Authority is fully committed to helping displaced families secure permanent housing,” said Thompson. “We elected to categorize natural disasters as a housing preference to reduce the waiting period; however, proper documentation is required to verify natural disaster status. The process is not immediate and will take time.”
HHA staff was also made aware by an advocate for the families that they are in need of furniture, clothes and basic necessities.
HHA has secured a translator for the applicants to communicate directly with HHA and United Way regarding their immediate needs. Once families are approved for housing assistance, the property management staff will send United Way an email listing of family’s needs, which will include the amount of security and utility deposits. Then United Way will facilitate additional assistance if needed.
“The families affected by the storm deserve our support, and I am proud and thankful that the authority responded in such a caring and humane fashion,” Hinesville Mayor Emeritus James Thomas Jr. said.
Both organizations hope to support future events to collect and/or distribute clothing, furniture and other necessities for the families; hopefully, in collaboration with local churches and businesses.
For more information on the Hinesville Housing Authority and how to help, visit www.hinesvillehousing.org or call 912-876-6561.