Atlanta mayor announces $50m program to get the homeless into new apartments

Mildred Europa Taylor August 23, 2019
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Pic credit: The Root

Scores of homeless people living in Atlanta in the U.S. will soon be able to sleep in new apartments, thanks to an initiative by the city to provide 550 homes for its homeless population.

There are currently 3,217 homeless people in Atlanta, half the number that was recorded a decade ago with the most difficult challenges being how to provide these people with the needed services and rental assistance.

This is likely to change, however, as the city has been able to reach its goal of raising $50 million to provide the 550 homes for its homeless population, AJC reports.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who disclosed this on Wednesday, said about $25 million came from private donations while the United Way of Greater Atlanta partnered with the city to raise the money.

Bottoms, who was on the city council when the plan was approved in 2017, said the other half of the money came from the Homeless Opportunity Bond sale that started under the former mayor, Kasim Reed while the Ameris Bank made the final donation of $114,000.

In 2017, officials outlined the plan to raise $50 million for the new homes after they closed the city’s largest homeless shelter following reports of tuberculosis outbreaks in the 100,000-square-foot building that housed over 500 people a night.

Over the years, Atlanta has been addressing homelessness through the concept of rapid rehousing, which, according to AJC, recognizes that most homeless people are forced to the streets after a financial crisis.

“The idea is to quickly provide a temporary home, which allows them to focus on rebuilding instead of where they will sleep,” AJC said.

“It is a miss-perception that many people have: that homelessness is represented entirely by the people they see on the streets,” said Jack Hardin, Co-Chair of the Atlanta Regional Commission on Homelessness.

“A far larger proportion of people experiencing homelessness have incomes and function at very high levels, but live on the margins of the economics of our society and any hardship can derail.”

David Pratt, who has been in and out of the Bell Street overpass, a place home to scores of homeless people, is elated about the city’s initiative to take people off the streets.

“I think it would be nice for people to get nice housing for the people in Atlanta because they really need it,” Pratt said while stressing that people don’t want shelters but individual homes to call their own

“They want their own house. They don’t want to be their own program. They don’t want to be told what to do. That’s got a lot to do with why people are out here,” he said.

A report by 11 Alive said even though Atlanta’s homeless numbers pale in comparison to New York with 78,000 homeless, Los Angeles with about 50,000, Seattle with 12,000, and Washington with more than 6,000, the problem is still easily seen in Atlanta, especially downtown near the major hotels.

Last Edited by:Ismail Akwei Updated: August 24, 2019


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