Instead, the local non-profit is giving the county a gift to celebrate.
The Place, with the help of local donors and volunteer groups, has begun renovating a home on Mary Alice Park Road in Cumming that will provide housing for homeless female youth in Forsyth County.
The project, which The Place hopes to have ready by Sept. 1, seeks to address a lack of transitional housing in the area for the growing number of homeless students in local schools.
“What better way to celebrate than offer a young life a safe place to sleep and the support and encouragement to reach their goals and fulfill their potential,” said Joni Smith, CEO of The Place.
In January, there were 634 homeless students in Forsyth County public schools, including 97 that qualified as “unaccompanied,” according to the school district.
“We can provide for many of their needs,” Smith said, “but safe and affordable housing has been nonexistent.”
Two years ago, the non-profit started to look for a home. The one on Mary Alice Park Road came on the market right before the pandemic hit Georgia and fit what The Place was looking for.
Its four bedrooms and three bathrooms provide enough space to start with six girl residents and a house “mom.” There’s space in the 2,700-square-foot home to add two more rooms in the unfinished basement and accommodate four more residents. With just over an acre of land, The Place might also expand the building in the future.
While the home was once featured in an issue of Southern Living magazine, its condition had deteriorated. The community has been chipping in to complete the renovations, with more than a dozen businesses and groups involved so far.
Still, The Place says it needs about $35,000 to complete the project. It’s asking the community to consider making a monetary donation through its website, theplaceofforsyth.org, where local residents can also sign up for future service opportunities, like sponsoring meals, mentoring residents, providing respite care to the house “mom,” and more.
For the long-term, The Place plans to fund the project through grants and local donors.
“So far we have received great support to make this home a reality,” Smith said.
To find residents, The Place will get referrals from Forsyth County Schools social workers and the district’s homeless liaison. Residents will have individual case plans and meet with caseworkers and a program manager to stay on track to meet certain goals. The house “mom” will live permanently at the home to “provide compassionate moral support,” Smith said.
“We want the residents to feel welcomed and supported,” Smith said, “but we also want them to achieve goals and prepare for their next step.”
If the project is a success, The Place says it hopes to offer a similar facility for local homeless boys in the future.
But The Place says it needs the community’s help.
“We do our best when the community gets involved with our projects,” Smith said.