Gwinnett County, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Some homeless women and their children in Gwinnett County will now have a place to call home. Officials are celebrating the opening of a HomeFirst Gwinnett shelter called The Resting Spot, the only homeless shelter in the county.

Those who attended the ribbon cutting ceremony and dedication applauded a new chapter for homeless women, moms and their children when the doors open on Tuesday.

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“HomeFirst’s goal is to take a coordinated approach to ending homelessness in Gwinnett County,” said HomeFirst Gwinnett Shelter Director Brandee Thomas. “We celebrate the leadership to get us to the finish line that we’re so excited and grateful for,” said Chad Dillard, the chief development officer of United Way of Greater Atlanta.

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Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson discussed the issue of homelessness in the area. “Homelessness is a complex and tragic problem, and Gwinnett County is fortunate to have a partner like HomeFirst Gwinnett in the front lines addressing this issue,” she said. It’s a problem made worse by the pandemic. Hendrickson said between 8,000 and 10,000 people are homeless in the county, including those living with family and in their cars. She said in 2017, the average age of a homeless person in Gwinnett was six years old. “One of the shocking ones to me was, there are 2,000 children that identify as homeless in our school system,” said Pat McDonough, a community advocate. “It’s essential that we provide intervention to get them the assistance that they need to thrive,” Hendrickson said.

CW69 toured the 20-bed facility where guests can stay for up to three months. “We have partnered with people to provide job training. We have partnered with people to provide healthcare,” McDonough said. The shelter will give a hand up to those in need, and they’re proud of the collaboration that made it possible. “We are dedicating it, not to any specific donor, not to any specific entity or organization, but instead back to the Gwinnett County community that built it,” said HomeFirst Gwinnett Executive Director Matt Elder.

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Officials say this is just the first of more steps to address homelessness in Gwinnett County.