LAMP – Breaking the Cycle of Homelessness

Ready with a “hand up” to South Georgia’s homeless population is Lowndes Associated Ministries to People (LAMP), a faith-based shelter serving eight counties.

At the heart of LAMP’s mission is the New Horizon Shelter, which offers temporary housing for homeless families, single parents, and single women and men.

While at the shelter, residents receive daily breakfast and dinner meals and lunch on weekends. In addition to cleaning their rooms and bathrooms, each resident is given duties like cooking meals and cleaning common living areas.

LAMP uses the “Housing First” homeless assistance approach, which prioritizes the goal of securing permanent housing and serving as a platform for people to improve their quality of life.

Two key programs LAMP manages are Rapid Re-housing and Re-entry Partnership Housing that help find permanent housing with short-term financial assistance and social services support.

“We are a safe place that takes away some of the worries,” said Yurshema Flanders, LAMP executive director. “If a person is upset and worried about the necessities of life, we want to give them a place to get some rest and have strong conversations with our case managers.”

LAMP’s case management program is goal-oriented and encourages individuals to address the root causes of their homelessness.

Upon arrival at the shelter, residents are paired with a case manager that guides the development of an individualized service plan, which serves as their “blueprint for success.”

“We want them going in the right direction,” Flanders said. “There are many roadblocks, and our case managers work to move these obstacles out of the way.”

While finding permanent housing is the ultimate goal, there are often multiple first steps, including securing employment and basic social services like obtaining a copy of their birth certificate.

“Our adult residents are required to be actively seeking employment,” Flanders said. “They have to do at least 15 job applications per week, and our case managers follow-up.”

LAMP has cultivated strong relationships with many local businesses, like CJB Industries, which hires shelter residents and provides transportation to and from work and the shelter.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Flanders said the labor market was “bleak,” but by 2021, the tide had shifted, and employers were coming to LAMP looking for workers.

“Now our biggest challenge is that the cost of living has gone up, and people don’t make enough to live alone,” Flanders said. “Normally, we don’t recommend roommates, but under the circumstances, it’s financially better for them to share living expenses.”

LAMP offers more than shelter services and operates a clothes closet with the Ministry of Park Avenue United Methodist Church. Vouchers are distributed by LAMP, and anyone who needs a fresh change of clothing and shoes can receive those items at no charge.

To break the cycle of poverty, LAMP has a series of “Empowerment Classes” for shelter residents, with topics including money management, stress and time management, parenting, resume writing and job skills, and basic computer knowledge.

Flanders said LAMP benefits from its partnership with the Greater Valdosta United Way.

“It’s more than the financial allocations,” Flanders said. “The United Way staff helps promote our events and supports our efforts. They are a trusted entity and provide us with great networking opportunities.”

In 2021, LAMP received funds from the Greater Valdosta United Way Bruce Williams Impact Grant to purchase furniture for the common living area.

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