Credit: Georgia State University
“Our main goal is to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring in Atlanta.”
– Jack Hardin
Atlanta Attorney Jack Hardin first became a homeless advocates during the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s, when he realized landlords with apartments that had low vacancy rates could offer their empty units to those without housing and, in the process, protect their properties from being vandalized.
Putting Housing First to Change the Equation
Decades later, Hardin co-chairs the Regional Commission on Homelessness, through which he recently led a successful campaign to raise $50 million – half came from the private sector that was then matched by the City of Atlanta — to fund 1,000 permanent supportive housing units. The Midtown Improvement District contributed $100,000 to this initiative, called HomeFirst, which is unique in its housing-first approach because many programs are focused on shelters. Others require people to first secure jobs, address mental illness and have a number of personal documents that can be difficult to acquire if a person doesn’t already have them.
“Initially we thought housing was a privilege, and you had to demonstrate entitlement by working on substance abuse or job skills,” Hardin said. “But we realized that if a person is unsheltered, that’s about all they’re focused on — where they’re going to lay their head. If you take the attention off of that, you will get better outcomes…”
Hardin has found that 80 percent of the people helped through Atlanta’s housing-first model stay self-sufficient.
“We recognize that we can’t eliminate hardship, and there will be rocks in the road for those living in marginal and precarious situations that will cause people to experience homelessness,” said Hardin. “Our main goal is to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring in Atlanta.”
- Follow the work of the Regional Commission on Homelessness
- Read the ClearPath five-year plan to make homelessness in Atlanta rare, brief and non-recurring.