United Way and city of Atlanta to invest $50 million to fight homelessness

By Maria Saporta

The city of Atlanta and the United Way of Greater Atlanta will be launching a $50 million initiative to reduce homelessness in the city, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced at his State of the City Business Breakfast Thursday morning.

“Today, I’m proud to announce that the United Way of Greater Atlanta will match the city of Atlanta’s contribution of $25 million in our biggest effort yet to make homelessness brief and rare in the City of Atlanta,” Reed said during his talk. “Together, today we are making a $50 million commitment that will reinforce Atlanta as a place where opportunity and human dignity come first – a city that’s not only too busy to hate, but one that is not too busy to love.”

Kasim Reed

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed delivers his State of the City address at his final Business Breakfast (Photo by Maria Saporta)

The project is being named HomeStretch, aimed at virtually eliminating chronic homelessness in Atlanta.

“The name HomeStretch signals that we see the finish line, that we can double down on where we need to be – making sure homelessness is rare and brief – and non-recurring,” said Milton Little, president of Atlanta’s United Way.

Jack Hardin, an attorney with Rogers & Hardin who has been working on the homelessness issue for more than a decade and is co-chair of the Regional Commission on Homelessness, said they have been working on this initiative for more than a year.

“The private money is available now,” Hardin said.

“The special commitments made by private donors is over and above what they normally do (for the United Way campaign),” Little added.

Asked whether this was related to the city’s desire to close the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter, operated by the Task Force for Homelessness, Little only said this initiative “recognizes the need for a low barrier, low impact shelter.”

Hardin echoed that thought.

Milton Little Jack Hardin

United Way’s Milton Little with attorney Jack Hardin at the Mayor’s 2017 Business Breakfast (Photo by Maria Saporta)

“It will include some small low barrier and low impact shelters,” he said – implying that it would not involve creating just one shelter for hundreds of people.

Meanwhile, the mayor mentioned the strides that have occurred in helping the homeless in Atlanta.

“Since the year 2013, we have seen a 52 percent decrease in the number of unsheltered homeless individuals; a 61 percent decrease in the number of chronically homeless individuals; and a 62 percent decrease in the number of homeless veterans in our city,” Reed said.

Later the mayor said he was proud to say that the city has “permanently housed more than 1,000 veterans who have put their lives on the line for the United States of America. We have reduced homelessness for our veterans to functional zero in the city of Atlanta.”

Hardin said this initiative is targeting efforts to combat homelessness in the city of Atlanta. But he added that the Regional Commission also is hold discussion for similar initiatives with Fulton County, DeKalb County, Gwinnett County and Cobb County.

“We are going to double down on our strategies that have worked,” Hardin said.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

4 replies
  1. Burroughston Broch says:

    It seems to me more important to help our homeless citizens than to import refugees and illegals, most of whom require support. Support the homeless citizens first, before spending money on anyone else.Report

    Reply
    • Burroughston Broch says:

      I will say what I please and repeat what I please. And you can pound sand.
      US citizens come first, then if there’s anything left over we can address refugees.
      Are you bigoted against US citizens? Or do you feel trendy, chic, and good inside when you prioritize refugees over US citizens?Report

      Reply
  2. Burroughston Broch says:

    We are not fully supporting our homeless citizens. We owe it to them to fully support them before we spend any money supporting non-citizens.Report

    Reply

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