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Group looks to tackle homelessness in LaGrange County

A group of around 30 people met Monday evening at Lakeland High School to discuss homelessness in LaGrange County.

“We’re wishing to start a dialogue to identify the problem and solve the problem,” said LHS business teacher Robert Albaugh. Albaugh’s student business organization held a fundraiser last fall, sleeping outside of the LaGrange First Church of God overnight to experience what it was like to be homeless.

That exercise began further discussions on the issue in LaGrange County, particularly how much of a need exists within the county.

Pastor Brian VanOsdol from the First Church of God noted that his church has been using a home that can accommodate a single homeless family. He told the gathered group that it has been booked solid for the last four years. Families can stay in the home for up to three months, he said, adding that they have found it can take that long for a family to “get back on their feet.”

VanOsdol added that they turned a lot of people away in 2013. They also have two families in an area hotel.

It was pointed out that nearly every county in Indiana has a homeless shelter, and most are not government sponsored.

The group also discussed what can be done short- and long-term in LaGrange County. The house the church has used will no longer be available later this year. One idea evolved around creating a list of people that will take in homeless for up to two months.

There was also discussion on whether or not there is need for a homeless shelter in LaGrange County and how that could be achieved.

“I’m convinced from my own observations that there is a need for a homeless shelter in LaGrange County,” VanOsdol said.