For Atlanta’s business community, success has to be measured by more than the value of its buildings – it is also measured by the value it brings to everyone who lives and works downtown. A livable, vibrant and economically robust Downtown must reflect our social values as well.
Atlanta is growing. More people move to the city and the region every day – about 90,000 people in 2018 will make metro Atlanta their home. For aspiring entertainers to make their way into the burgeoning movie and music industry here, Atlanta is a place of opportunity to attract and retain talent. Downtown Atlanta is home to five Fortune 500 headquarters and the largest university in Georgia. Together, this makes Downtown the great social crossroads for the city, and perhaps the region – it is one of the few places left where the wealthy, the middle class and the poor stand shoulder to shoulder on the street.
The visible impact of economic disparity – panhandling, homelessness, untreated mental illness, substance abuse problems – speaks to the need of the business community to take an active role addressing these social problems. ADID recognizes this role.
In 2015, ADID hired a Social Impact Director (currently George Chidi) focused on leading and convening stakeholders to understand and promote efforts that address key quality of life issues.
ADID has been instrumental in supporting social service organizations working Downtown to reduce poverty.
- Co-chairing House ATL, a policy initiative to increase the supply of affordable housing in Atlanta
- Coordinating cold weather relief downtown for people experiencing homelessness during the winter, in conjunction with the City of Atlanta
- Establishing a partnership with Lyft through the nonprofit Common Courtesy to help people with transportation needs move from the street to a shelter and from a shelter to housing
- Establishing a partnership with area hotels to bring people experiencing extreme poverty into hospitality employment
- Helping establish a coordinated access point to enroll people at the Gateway Center experiencing homelessness
- Helping establish the Atlanta/Fulton County Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative, an innovative pilot program to divert arrests of people experiencing homelessness or extreme poverty into treatment instead
- Participating in the annual homelessness count
- Serving as housing chairman of the Fulton County Superior Court Task Force for Mental Illness, which is creating a comprehensive plan to end incarceration for people experiencing mental illness
- Serving as strategy co-chair for the Homelessness Continuum of Care’s 10-year strategy plan
- Serving on the allocation committee of Home First, a $50 million initiative to establish 1,000 units of permanently-supportive housing and other services for people experiencing homelessness
- Working closely with outreach teams from the Georgia Department of Behavior Health and Developmental Disabilities to identify and serve people facing severe and persistent mental illness on the Downtown street
Social Impact Priorities
Give Change That Makes Sense
Asking for money is illegal anytime in Downtown Atlanta, and after dark throughout the City. The more you give your change to panhandlers, the more their lives don’t change.
Supporting local organizations that provide food, shelter, and support services is the best way to help. A donation of $100 can provide one week of transitional housing with intensive professional services for someone in need.
Invest in long-term solutions by giving your financial support and volunteering your time to help local organizations and service providers.
Food donations in Downtown Atlanta that are not coupled with other types of services actually maintain homelessness, rather than solve it, because it disrupts the pipeline of social services that provide pathways and assistance out of homelessness.
We urge you to focus your efforts and resources towards holistic support. To do this, we suggest connecting with a community partner that is already embedded within the City’s homeless population—an organization that is hyper-local and is committed to addressing the complicated needs of underserved individuals over time. You can find a list of these organizations at partnerforhopeatl.com.
If you would like individualized guidance on finding a community partner that best fits with your organization’s beliefs and/or resources, you can contact George Chidi, Social Impact Director for the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, at 404.658.5907 (office), 678.824.4187 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Partner for Hope
Rather than feeding or donating to individuals on Atlanta’s streets, please consider directing your generosity to one of the great organizations working tirelessly to improve the lives of people in need in our communities. Whether you wish to volunteer in a kitchen, provide hands-on support, or give food and other resources—there are plenty of opportunities to partner with a local organization that shares your mission.
Resources for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness
Start with a free and confidential phone call to United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta by dialing 2-1-1 or 404-614-1000 to get connected to community services (counseling, food, clothing and shelter).
Go to the Gateway 24/7 Homeless Services Center for the full range of services you need to get out of homelessness: 275 Pryor St. SW (404) 215-6600.
ReStart 3:20 provides a space for service providers in the community to carry out programs. The organization also offers a range of services each Saturday, including meals, education resources, and job fairs.