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School staff discover two unhoused people living on the property of an elementary school in Augusta

Lillian Hussey Elementary School in Augusta.
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Lillian Hussey Elementary School in Augusta.

The discovery of two unhoused people living on the property of the Lillian Hussey Elementary School in Augusta is, again, putting a spotlight on the lack of affordable housing and shelters in the Capital city.

School staff called police, who issued a trespassing complaint and took the individuals off-site.

Augusta City Councilor Kevin Judkins said retired people and even those who work full-time cannot afford the rents in the area.

"There are people in the homeless community who were retired and doing well but then their rents got doubled and they can't afford it. I know people I spoke to directly in the homeless community here that work full-time jobs but they don't make enough to pay for an apartment in the Augusta area so they're sleeping in vehicles on the street," Judkins said.

Judkins said the city has had success in housing about 30 individuals by working with landlords and long-term projects in the planning phase will provide additional beds. Judkins says Bread of Life Ministries is working to open a new low barrier shelter and the city expects to reopen an overnight shelter this fall.

He believes the city's success in housing some is causing more unhoused people to come to the city looking for help. Judkins said a count a few months ago showed 35 to 50 homeless residents in Augusta, but now the number grows daily with new arrivals.

Augusta Police said they and Hussey Elementary School staff are now routinely checking the property to ensure no unhoused residents return. Police said they have also stepped up patrols in downtown Augusta where business owners and residents have complained about vandalism and other problems.