17 for ’17: The Closing Of Atlanta’s Largest Homeless Shelter – Peachtree Pine

Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter shut down in August following a $9.7 million settlement in a decade-long court battle.

Allison Guillory / WABE

WABE News is looking back at the top 17 news stories in 2017. 

The Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter sat on the edge of downtown Atlanta and housed hundreds of people.  It shut down in August following a $9.7 million settlement in a decade-long court battle between its operator, Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, and various downtown civic and business organizations.

Officials said all remaining residents of Peachtree-Pine have been placed in other shelters around the city.

That was possible because the city of Atlanta and United Way have banded together to spend about $50 million not just to house the Peachtree-Pine residents, but to help all homeless people in the city.

The closure of the large shelter signals a change in homeless strategy around the Atlanta.

“I don’t think we will see shelters that house five, six, seven hundred at a time anymore,” said Tony Johns, with Crossroads Ministries, which helps homeless in downtown with food and other services.

Instead, the concept of small homeless shelters in neighborhoods is taking hold.

Peachtree-Pine was a “low barrier shelter,” where homeless people did not have to meet requirements like enrolling in a program. The city opened another such low-barrier shelter in November.

However, that new shelter is not in downtown and only has 75 beds.  City officials said they are working to add another 25 beds.

Whether that will be enough to house the hundreds of homeless residents who used to drift in and out of Peachtree-Pine and may now be roaming the city looking for shelter is a question WABE News will be following in 2018.