Lo­cal res­i­dents look to con­tain home­less­ness

The Covington News - - LOCAL - JACKIE GUTKNECHT jgutknecht@cov­news.com

A New­ton County fam­ily has plans to do­nate land and de­velop a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion all to help lo­cal home­less peo­ple get the step up they need to get off the streets.

Wes­ley Haus­mann said he and his wife Amy were moved af­ter a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Rock­dale Emer­gency Re­lief (RER) spoke at their church. The rep­re­sen­ta­tive spoke about how child trafficking and home­less­ness af­fects the lo­cal com­mu­nity. The Haus­manns knew they had to do some­thing.

“Hav­ing fallen on tough times my­self, I have al­ways been sen­si­tive to the home­less com­mu­nity,” Wes­ley said. “I have been home­less be­fore but noth­ing like what many of these peo­ple face. A cou­ple nights on the street liv­ing in my car in my teens and com­ing close sev­eral times later in life but I had a safety net of fam­ily and friends to help me out.”

Wes­ley said the ideas for Con­tain­ers of Hope came to him in a dream.

“I woke up from a dream where we were hav­ing a bar­be­cue sur­round­ing be fam­i­lies I did not rec­og­nize,” he said. “Kids were play­ing and ev­ery­one was en­joy­ing them­selves. I rec­og­nized the woods and con­tainer houses in my dream and then typ­i­cally as dreams go my per­spec­tive starts to change and I see the com­mu­nity from above.”

That dream gave Wes­ley the idea for the current pro­posed lay­out (pic­tured) and us­ing non-tra­di­tional liv­ing quar­ters.

“I worked as a con­trac­tor in Iraq and Afghanistan for a to­tal of 10 years and we lived in tents, bunkers, and storage con­tain­ers,” he said. “This gave me the idea about re­cy­cling the con­tain­ers as hous­ing units for home­less fam­i­lies with chil­dren along with the metal build­ing con­struc­tion. We can do so much more with less uti­liz­ing non-tra­di­tional con­struc­tion tech­niques that the military em­braced over­seas.”

The current pro­posed lay­out, which will be lo­cated on the Haus­manns’ per­sonal prop­erty off High­way 20 on the New­ton County/Henry County line, will be able to house up to 48 peo­ple – up to two adults and four chil­dren per unit.

“While there are sev­eral non-profit en­ti­ties out there that are pro­vid­ing hous­ing and as­sis­tance ser­vices to cit­i­zens ours is unique be­cause we are us­ing our own land to es­sen­tially cre­ate a self­sus­tain­ing mi­cro com­mu­nity that we hope will be able to op­er­ate with min­i­mal fund­ing and tra­di­tional over­sight,” he said. “We are for­tu­nate enough to be in a po­si­tion where we have land and a sta­ble life­style but we are with­out sig­nif­i­cant means so we are look­ing to in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses to help us make our vi­sion a re­al­ity.”

Wes­ley said plans for a Phase 2 to in­cor­po­rate eight more con­tain­ers are al­ready in the begin­ning stages. He has also reached out to the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia (UGA) en­gi­neer­ing depart­ment and his con­cept has been added as a de­sign chal­lenge for a Se­nior Cap­stone projects.

If se­lected, the stu­dent(s) will have the op­por­tu­nity to be com­pletely hands-on with the de­sign of the Con­tain­ers of Hope cam­pus, in­clud­ing site vis­its and con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

“We have the con­cept but are en­cour­ag­ing the stu­dent(s) to make it their own and make their own pro­pos­als to max­i­mize space and util­ity to sup­port the max­i­mum amount of liv­ing units and com­mu­nity space while keep­ing with the spirit of the project,” he said.

“The com­mu­nity will be ca­pa­ble of sus­tain­ment of­f­grid with so­lar power, a well, sep­tic, com­mu­nity food source/gar­den, et cetera. Our thought process on this was to min­i­mize op­er­at­ing costs to max­i­mize ben­e­fits for the par­tic­i­pants with min­i­mum over­sight. Our hope is that the plug and play as­pect will make it eas­ier for peo­ple to want to do the same by elim­i­nat­ing the op­er­at­ing costs of the fa­cil­i­ties.”

Wes­ley said he is work- ing on ob­tain­ing a 501(c)(3) non­profit sta­tus for the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“All do­na­tions now are go­ing into a fund to help us setup the non­profit of­fi­cially and then we can be­gin ac­tively so­lic­it­ing for do­na­tions for the con­struc­tion,” he said. “What we are propos­ing is very unique and we, of course, need to pro­tect our­selves le­gally so we also need a lawyer to help us nav­i­gate the setup and pro­tect our in­ter­est.”

Wes­ley said he has al­ready be­gun con­ver­sa­tions with lo­cal busi­nesses that are will­ing to do­nate their time and equip­ment to help make his dream a re­al­ity.

“I even have a con­tact to get all of the con­tain­ers for free, which is un­be­liev­able,” he said. “But, with­out the (501(c) (3)) sta­tus they can­not write off their con­tri­bu­tions and have told me to con­tact them as soon as we have it to get things in mo­tion.”

To learn more about Con­tain­ers of Hope or do­nate to the cause, visit the Go­FundMe site at www.go­fundme.com/ con­tain­ers-of- hopephase-1 or Face­book page at www.face­book.com/COH.Cov­ing­ton/.

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