BY ELLIE HENSLEY
Editor's Note: These stories originally appeared as a three-part series in Fall 2019 and have been updated in 2021.
Midtown Atlanta is known as one of the city’s most thriving areas, but if you’ve spent any time in the district, you’ve likely come across someone experiencing homelessness. Homelessness ranked among the top five most pressing issues facing Midtown in the 2019 Midtown Community Survey. It's natural to ask, “why doesn't somebody do something to change this?"
In Atlanta, the work to combat homelessness is spread across many different groups, including the faith community, business leaders, nonprofits, public safety and the City of Atlanta. We spoke with several experts on the ground working to solve this citywide issue to find out what they're doing, how it's going and what's next.
Click the images below to read their stories from the front lines.
Faith Community Opens Doors
The Alarm Clock
Outreach During the Pandemic
Five Things We Learned
Local Helpers Lend a Hand
Turning the Model Inside-Out
Inside the Numbers
How Clarence Found His Way
About This Ongoing Series
September 2019: Many different entities are bringing resources to the fight against homelessness (and for affordable housing) in Atlanta, where the model is more decentralized than other cities. We interviewed leaders representing a broad cross-section of implementation roles to find out where their work is getting traction, and where the pain points are.
October 2019: Before daybreak, Midtown Blue public safety officers are out on patrol in the district, conducting wake-ups and checking in on the welfare of homeless people here. Meanwhile, the outreach work of Intown Ministries staff helps assess needs and recommend support services. We rode along to see firsthand what happens on the ground every day toward changing the outcome for people experiencing homelessness.
November 2019: Meet a person who changed his circumstances and got off the streets. Before he became homeless, Clarence had gainful employment and a roof over his head. He fell on hard times, but has worked his way back to stability with help from a Midtown Blue public safety officer who went above and beyond.
February 2020: One of our staff members volunteered in the field for the annual Point-In-Time Count to document the number of unsheltered people in the City of Atlanta. She shared about her experience with this effort in a follow-up story.
October 2020: During the pandemic, the response efforts within Atlanta's network of street teams have changed to address the urgency of the public health crisis, and several creative partnerships have emerged to tackle these issues both short-term and long-term.
October 2021: A partnership between Midtown Blue and the Atlanta Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative has helped 18 unsheltered people in Midtown, by helping them find temporary housing and/or connecting them with supportive services like health care and drug rehabilitation programs.