ATLANTA, GA — The Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter was officially closed on August 28, 2017. The Metro Atlanta Task Force Executive Director, Anita Beaty, was the facilitator of the shelter, which housed 700-1000 people who are homeless. Ever since it opened in 1997, neighbors and nearby organizations have complained about unsanitary conditions, loitering, drug sales and drug use, and violent crimes, but Beaty felt these were pretenses since the local government and the business community were really after the property. There were long legal battles with City Hall.
Many of the downtown homeless shelters are disappearing and some are full to capacity. On a cold winter night some of the homeless took public transportation to the Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson airport and spent the night.
Even though there have been public-private partnership efforts underway, but not much assistance federally, the city has a problem with the rising number of families who can’t find affordable housing.
About one in five Georgians live in poverty. More than 60,000 children in Georgia live in low-income households. Forty-three percent of poor Georgia residents have jobs but many of the available employment opportunities don’t offer enough compensation to fully provide for their families. Families, particularly single mothers, rely on food kitchens, mobile food pantries, churches and other charitable groups when their food stamps run out. Thousands in the state will lose food stamps due to the work requirement.
Now, U.S. Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue has proposed swapping “harvest boxes” for some food stamps. This proposal was made during the budget talks in February 2018. White House Budget chief Mick Mulvaney likened these boxes of food to the “Blue Apron-type program,” a high-end meal service that sends customers fresh ingredients such as fish and produce for individually apportioned meals. In comparison, the SNAP packages contain shelf-stable milk, cereal, peanut butter, canned meat, fruits and vegetables. (SNAP is an acronym for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.)
There are empty apartments that could be used for people who are in need of affordable housing. The policies in this country must be changed in order to provide living wage jobs, affordable housing and equality to all who seek an affordable home.