The city of Atlanta has made a major stride in combating homelessness. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that $50 million has been raised to build houses for over 500 families who are without shelter.
The HomeFirst Atlanta initiative—which was launched in 2017 when former Mayor Kasim Reed was in office—was created after Atlanta’s largest shelter shuttered. The shelter served over 500 individuals each night. In an effort to develop a sustainable solution for the homeless population, community leaders and political officials teamed up with the United Way Regional Commission on Homelessness and Invest Atlanta to develop a fund that would provide housing so that individuals could focus on rebuilding their lives. Half of the $50 million came from the Homeless Opportunity Bond sale led by Reed and the rest of the funds were from private donors.
Bottoms believes that this collaborative effort will make lasting changes in the lives of individuals who need assistance. “HomeFirst will create 550 units of permanent supportive housing that will be part of larger developments that will contribute, in aggregate, more than 2,500 units of affordable housing,” she said in a statement, according to The Atlanta Voice. “We are building a compassionate community of trusted partners who approach homelessness in a strategic, transparent and accountable way. The results show that it is working.”
Organizers of the initiative are aiming to make resources more accessible for those struggling with homelessness. “It is a miss-perception that many people have: that homelessness is represented entirely by the people they see on the streets,” Jack Hardin, Co-Chair of the Atlanta Regional Commission on Homelessness told the news outlet. “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.”
There have been several projects launched in Atlanta to combat the city’s homelessness issue. Earlier this year, Gwinnett officials awarded nearly $1 million to an organization that had plans to build two shelters in the county.