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Bibb County to buy ex-school that now hosts homeless shelter

April 22, 2021 GMT

MACON, Ga. (AP) — A middle Georgia government plans to buy a former school that was rapidly turned into a homeless shelter after two men froze to death on Christmas.

WXGA-TV reported that Bibb County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to use $1.5 million in federal coronavirus relief to buy the former Brookdale Elementary School from the Bibb County school district. It’s now being operated as the Brookdale Warming Center and officials intend to continue using it to help the homeless.

“We want to change lives and reach out and give some people a hand up and help them move on to be productive citizens. I think that’s what we’re doing. As an early skeptic, I’m in support of it and I will support it,” said Commissioner Mallory Jones.

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Commissioners also voted to give the shelter another $100,000 for operations. Macon community groups initially paid the startup costs for the shelter, with The Salvation Army providing meals.

Despite her vote, Commissioner Valerie Wynn said she was worried about attracting homeless people to Macon and said she would rather spend the money on homeowners.

“We give these homeless people, who are not really people of our community, a better condition than some of our own citizens,” Wynn said.

Macon-Bibb commissioners must vote again on the measures before they pass.

The homeless shelter ramped up from being able to host 80 people per night to a capacity of 180 in January.

Commissioners said that the warming center has helped 400 people since it opened.

“And tonight, we get to make a very small investment, I might add, into alleviating the conditions of poverty in hundreds of families’ lives,” said Mayor Pro Tem Seth Clark.

“Because a lot of us are a paycheck, or two paychecks, or a pension check, or social security check, or whatever away from being homeless and our constituents are as well,” empathized Commissioner Elaine Lucas.