Atlanta, United Way of Greater Atlanta start $50M homelessness program

February 2,2017

Source: The Atlanta Business Chronicle

Atlanta and the United Way of Greater Atlanta will launch a $50 million initiative to reduce homelessness in the city, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reedannounced 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.”

The “HomeStretch” project aims to virtually eliminate 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 United Way.

Jack Hardin, an attorney with Rogers & Hardin who has worked on the homelessness issue for more than a decade and is co-chair of the Regional Commission on Homelessness, said work on the HomeStretch initiative has been ongoing 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 is related to the city’s desire to close the Task Force for Homelessness’ Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter, Little said this initiative “recognizes the need for a low barrier, low impact shelter.”

Hardin echoed that thought.

“It will include some small low barrier and low impact shelters,” he said – implying 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.