Homelessness

More than one-half million people meet the definition of homeless in the U.S.

The city of Atlanta, like other large cities, deals with the dilemma of homelessness.  More than half-a million people meet the definition of being homeless in the U.S.  and 7,000 of those are in Atlanta.  atlantamission.org

  • Most of the homeless are military veterans
  • Nationwide 50,000 youth and over 200,000 families with children are also homeless
  • New numbers from the city of Atlanta show that homelessness in the city has declined 14 percent since last year
  • Still, 2000 people sleep on the streets each night in the city
  • Most shelter under bridges or in abandoned buildings
  • In Atlanta, 90 percent of the homeless population are African-Americans

Most are homeless because they can no longer afford housing.  A job may have ended, an uninsured home burns down or a teen gets kicked out of their home.  Atlanta’s shelters see all types of circumstances daily.  Many are good people in tough situations.

But while the statistics show improved numbers, overall a roughly 30 percent drop since 2015 (wabe.org), there is still work to be done.  “In 2017, the Atlanta City Council and the Regional Commission on Homelessness, operated through United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, announced a partnership in which $50 million in private and city funds [were] directed at curbing homelessness even further.”  crossroadsnews.com

Atlanta seems to be achieving some success.  Since opening the downtown Gateway Center in 2005, over $100 million in private philanthropy investments to curb homelessness has been utilized.  In 2017, the “Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development…, show that Georgia is leading the way out of homelessness in several areas.”  crossroadsnews.com

What’s making the difference?  The two key factors are affordable housing and entry-level jobs.  In cities like Los Angeles, Washington or New York, there are huge gaps between what an entry-level job will pay and housing costs.  Many in these cities can’t afford apartments.

But while there is still affordable housing in the Metro, some is being destroyed at a pace faster than most other communities nationwide.  Also, the lack of direct public transportation between affordable homes in the south part of the city and jobs in the north are a problem.

Jack Harding, co-chair of the Regional Commission on Homelessness stated, “We won’t eliminate hardship or adversity.  People will encounter problems that throw them for a loop, but we can identify those people quickly, we can propose to them durable solutions, and we can make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring.”  crossroadsnews.com

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