Dothan leaders looking for new ideas to help homeless

DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -- Looking for better solutions for homelessness.

That's why some Wiregrass leaders headed to Texas to check out an organization that empowers and serves its homeless community.

WTVY's Carmen Fuentes talked with Mayor Saliba and the director of one community organization working to help the homeless.

They say this experience in texas gave them some ideas about how they can deal with our problem in the Wiregrass.

"A community can be gauged on just how well we take care of one another," says Mayor Mark Saliba.

He saw firsthand the impact that a community can have when they work together

"They are drawing people in who want to live in and around and deal with the issue of homelessness"

They being Mobile Loaves and Fishes, a non-profit that has provided housing and more than 5.5 million meals to those who suffer from chronic homelessness

They also looked at Community First Village which was started 21 years ago and spans 51 acres.

"This is a self-sustaining community for those that have found themselves in a place where they need help"

"They have offices there. They have a community room which you know is a multipurpose room; it can serve as .. community seminars can be held there. They can hold church services there."

Kody Kirchhoff, Executive Director of Dothan's Harbor was impressed by the "village."

"The great term they use is they call everyone neighbors. No longer are they homeless, no longer are they someone from the street."

And the rent is not free -- "They have opportunities to work right on-site in that neighborhood community. Whether it's gardening, in their forge shop, or in their arts community, their automotive shop"

And here at the Harbor... "We're also learning creative ideas, how to be cutting edge to really make a community and give ownership to those who are underserved."

The South East Alabama Coalition for the Homeless will hold a forum at Landmark Park on October 22nd to discuss ideas that will work best for the homeless community here in Dothan.